By Mitchell Fox
The Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) Bold women’s volleyball team defeated the Royal Military College (RMC) Paladins in straight sets on Nov. 17 at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC).
The Bold entered the game having lost their last two against the two–time defending Quigley Cup champions Brock Badgers. This time, they kicked off the weekend with a bang, using their offensive depth to take down the winless but still formidable Paladins.
The Bold were short some familiar faces. Fourth-year middle Britney Veltman was on the bench after an injury during TMU’s game against Brock on Saturday. While the team’s most productive players this season, Lauren Veltman and Scarlett Gingera, did not play as younger players earned more opportunities.
Bold head coach Dustin Reid said it was good for the top players to have a week off to rest up before the final stages of the semester.
“They’re also excited to be able to see their teammates who work so hard every day in practice get chances to go out there and compete,” Reid added. “It’s a nice benefit from both sides. They get to rest and they also get to be excited for the kids.”
The team has gone 12 weeks with about one day off per week to start the season. Reid said it can be difficult to play in November when fatigue kicks in, but the team is working to close out the last two weeks before the winter break.
“You can see from their energy today that we’re trying to put it all out there,” he added.
The game started out with a bang, as both teams scrambled to keep balls up through a long rally. TMU took the opening point, yet both sides found a way to score in the early stages of the set.
The Paladins ended up with a 7-6 lead, but from there, TMU took over. The Bold took a dominant 25-13 victory thanks to a 12-3 run to end the frame.
The Bold’s power was too much for Paladins’ blockers. The ball would hit hands or get into gaps between the front and back lines, catching Paladins players off guard.
The Bold shared the load on offence as first-year outside hitter Marta Cerovic led the way with six kills while first-year outside hitter Kaiya Krahn and third-year right side Jia Lonardi each had five. Krahn was a difference-maker all game.
Reid liked what he saw from the Winnipeg product in her first real opportunity.
“She’s such an aggressive player and she’s such a gamer,” Reid said about Krahn.
Overall, Krahn said the team overcame nervousness and believes the young squad on the court played well together.
“It was a good chance for all of us to play together,” she said.
Another standout for the Bold was Megan Kesner, who led the team in digs and aces, while also coming up with 20 assists.
“Being a defensive specialist, being back row and being a serving sub, helps,” Kesner said. “I’m always ready to go in whenever needed.”
Kesner said she went into the match with no expectations, just to play for fun.
“I feel like having that light-hearted mindset really helped me,” she said.
Krahn said the team’s ability to laugh off certain plays and have fun throughout the game was valuable.
“We’re good at being serious on the court but also know when the right time [is] to make a joke or have a laugh,” said Krahn.
The second set was more well-matched—including an 8-5 lead for the Paladins—but the Bold proved a strong run and solid serving can change the course of a set. A 7-1 TMU run to go up 22-16 put the set out of reach, even with three late service errors by the Bold.
Kesner said the team had a slow start to the game overall but played together and worked hard for the win.
“I think towards the second half [we] really pulled together and got our job done,” she said.
The Bold had another slow start to begin the third set but would once again bounce back in style. RMC’s last lead of the match would come at 7-6, after which the Bold would go on a 15-1 run.
The Paladins showed no quit toward the end of the game. Key serves, digs and dominant play at the net from fifth-year setter Cassidy Chang and second-year middle Eve Smith powered a 10-point Paladins comeback. Still, TMU held on, keeping RMC on their toes and forcing attack errors to close out the set.
Reid said the focus for the weekend was building as a group in preparation for the upcoming schedule.
“I think these matches this weekend are about realizing that there’s important matches ahead,” he said.
UP NEXT: TMU looks to take the weekend sweep against the Paladins on Nov. 18 at the MAC. The first serve is set to fly at 6 p.m.