By: Gary-Joseph Panganiban
The Ryerson Rams women’s volleyball team, who this week was named the top team in U SPORTS, defeated the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) Paladins 3-1 (25-15, 25-16, 25-27, 25-16) Friday night at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.
Although the Rams’ perfect record remains untainted at 7-0, head coach Dustin Reid did not hold back his disappointment in the team’s performance.
“At times we played quite well,” said Reid. “But a lot of the times we weren’t really convinced we wanted the ball to come to us.”
The Rams dominated the Paladins in the first set, mainly through the strong play of veteran Lauren Veltman, who made her season debut after nursing an ankle injury she sustained in a preseason game.
Veltman said she was excited and “maybe a little emotional” when her name was announced at the start. The fourth-year player landed back-to-back aces and had six of her 10 kills in the opening set to give the Rams a 25-15 edge.
The Rams carried their momentum into the second set as they got off to a quick 7-1 start. However, several Ryerson errors hinted at a possible slow down and allowed RMC to bring the score back to 13-12. Ultimately, strong attacking from Molly Peters, Brett Hagarty and team captain Cailin Wark capped the set at 25-16.
The Paladins found new life in the third set and thrived off of lackluster play on behalf of the Rams. Several Ryerson errors allowed RMC to pull further ahead with a score of 18-22.
Wark, who leads the Rams in kills this season, did her best to provide an answer, getting four consecutive kills to tie the set at 22. However, the captain’s efforts were not enough to stop the Paladins from taking the set 25-27.
“When [the Paladins] started playing a little better, I expected us to respond with more intensity, competitiveness and confidence,” said Reid. “We didn’t tonight.”
The Rams eventually adjusted and secured the fourth and final set, 25-16, behind Wark’s terrific play. She finished the game with 20 kills, seven digs, five blocks and five aces. Wark also contributed 27.5 points.
Wark noted there were ups and downs from the team’s performance against the Paladins, but said that holding themselves to account is important moving forward.
The win came after a stretch of four away games in which the Rams defeated York, Nipissing, Guelph and Waterloo.
Ryerson’s perfect record will be put to the test in their next game against the fourth best team in the country, the University of Toronto Varsity Blues. The two will face off next Friday at the Goldring Centre.
The two teams last played on Oct. 26 in a heavyweight bout in which Ryerson won 3-2 (25-21, 16-25, 27-25, 19-25, 15-13).
Coach Reid said the team needs to perform greater if they want to win against their city rivals.
“It’s time to decide if we want to be better than ‘just a bit better’ than the other side,” said Reid.