By Nikolas Theodorakidis
The Ryerson women’s volleyball team advanced to the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) finals for the first time in 15 years on Friday night after a victory in three straight sets against the Western Mustangs.
The first set of the match was tightly contested until a strong serving performance by left blocker Veronica Livingston helped the Rams pull away from its opponents. Mistakes made by the Mustangs also did not help their cause as the first set went to the Rams 25-18.
In the second set, the Mustangs jumped out to a 5-1 lead, prompting Rams coach Dustin Reid to call a timeout. An emphatic kill by middle blocker Theanna Vernon on the first point, following the timeout, set the tone for the remainder of the game.
The Rams would go on a 24-10 run to take the second set, 25-15.
The Mustangs did not get deterred despite trailing two sets to none. Western jumped out to another early lead but Ryerson was able to fight back for the second straight set. The Rams would fight back to claim the third and final set 25-19.
Vernon was awarded player of the game, finishing with a team high of nine kills in the match. After last week’s victory over Queen’s, coach Reid said Vernon’s performance was one of the greatest he had ever seen. This week, the coach had more complimentary words for his all-star blocker.
“She was matched up against a two-time player of the year (Kelsey Veltman) on the other side of the net in every rotation,” Reid said. “What can I say, she dominated the match.”
With the win, the Rams advance to play the undefeated University of Toronto Varsity Blues in the gold medal match on March 5. Despite the odds being stacked against them, Reid believes the Rams shouldn’t be counted out just yet.
“We know we’re playing against a fantastic team that’s got a lot of confidence and controls the ball better than any other team,” Reid said. “Crazy things happen in these playoff matchups and we can make some history tomorrow if they happen for us.”