By Jack MacCool
The Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) Bold women’s volleyball team continued their streak of dominance with a straight set win over the Lakehead Thunderwolves Saturday evening at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC).
Saturday’s game was the second of two matchups against Lakehead scheduled for the weekend as TMU enters the final third of their regular season. It was also the sixth consecutive win for a confident Bold team who have dropped just one set during that stretch.
“It’s just something we get confident in the more we do it,” said TMU setter Alicia Lam. “It’s definitely a team effort to get confident in it, on the bench, on the court and the staff. It shows the grit that we have as a team.”
Lam was a standout performer in the game for the Bold, recording 29 of the team’s 33 total assists. Bold middle Bethany Smith was another bright spot for TMU in the match as she recorded her season-high in kills with seven.
Head coach Dustin Reid sees the balanced attack as something that will help them greatly down the stretch of the regular season.
“You have the potential to avoid the load on certain players but you also get lifts in the emotional area,” said Reid. “It’s one point on the scoreboard but in the emotional area a bit more than that.”
TMU began the opening set with a similar vigour as their win 24 hours earlier, converting on a number of kills and blocks. However, Lakehead matched the intensity of the home side, finding seams for spikes and well-placed tips.
The two teams exchanged points during the early portion of the set before TMU went on a run to force a Lakehead timeout. The momentum stayed with the Bold for the rest of the set as they went on to win the opener 25-17.
The Bold converted 12 kills in the opening frame, including four slams from Smith.
“When your fifth-year, athletically-talented middle is playing aggressively, it’s a good thing for your team,” said Reid.
TMU had a strong start to the second getting two quick kills and a number of strong serves from outside hitter Kylie Ferguson. Lakehead weathered the storm, trying the set shortly after.
The turning point of the set came in the form of an epic, seemingly minutes long, rally capped off by another emphatic Smith kill putting the Bold up by three. Not long after, the Bold found themselves leading by eight as the Thunderwolves struggled to contain the balanced attack at the net.
TMU took the second 25-13 off a massive Ashley Ditchfield kill.
The third began with a string of Lakehead points as they seemed determined to get themselves on the board. The Thunderwolf lead was short-lived however, as a Ferguson kill along with a Jia Lonardi service ace evened the set at 8-8.
The set stayed close as both teams jockeyed for the lead, but a combination of strong TMU play, service errors and a few mishit receptions allowed the Bold to take control of the momentum. However, Lakehead was able to survive the run from TMU and came back to tie the set at 20 apiece.
A trio of kills from Julie Moore helped right the ship for the Bold as they closed out the set 25-23 against a Lakehead team that refused to roll over.
The experience of needing to dig deep and keep composure is something the Bold see as a major help entering the late stages of the regular season.
“That’s something that’s going to be really important for us when we start to play those tougher matches,” said Smith.
The win over Lakehead brings the Bold’s record to 9-4 on the season as they jockey for position in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) conference. Reid said making sure the Bold play a home quarter-final match will be huge for the team.
The Bold have just two games left at home for the remainder of the season. For a team who’s seen seven of their nine wins come on the MAC floor, they’ll need to focus on long-term goals as they prepare for the postseason.
“I think we have a lot of team goals and individual goals that we’re working on in practice. We’re taking that time seriously in the gym and off the court as well,” said Lam. “I think we’re building towards a really big goal and I think that’s something we’re going to achieve this year.”
UP NEXT: The Bold take to the road to face the York University Lions on Jan. 21 at the Tait McKenzie Centre.