Rams women’s volleyball player Lauren Wong jumps toward the volleyball during an afternoon practice. (Sami Chazonoff/Ryersonian)

The women’s volleyball team is saying goodbye to a strong season and its captain, after losing the U Sports gold medal game on Sunday in Edmonton.

Rams head coach Dustin Reid says he is proud of the team after its tough loss against the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Thunderbirds.

The Rams got off to a great start Sunday. They won the first two sets and were on the verge of winning the national title. But UBC proved hard to beat. The Thunderbirds went on to win the following three sets, securing gold.

“It’s a really stinging feeling and easy to think what could have been,” Reid said. “But we quickly turned to appreciating what we’ve done as a group and [to appreciating] each other.”

The Rams started the tournament strong with back-to-back wins against the Calgary Dinos and Alberta Pandas to qualify for the finals, an impressive effort that didn’t go unnoticed by Ryerson’s president Mohamed Lachemi.

“I’m very proud of them,” Lachemi said Monday. “Silver medal in a national competition is extremely positive and I’m going to celebrate that success.”

As the defending champions, the Rams were hoping to bring home a win for the second year in a row. However they still made history winning the silver medal, a first for the program.

“Last year they got the first national championship in the history of Ryerson, this year they finish second [and] that’s not bad at all,” Lachemi said. “

The Rams ended their successful regular season with a record 17 wins and two losses in the OUA East, going on to win a silver medal in the OUA playoffs only days before heading into the national finals.

There wasn’t a lot of time to reflect on the OUA loss and they quickly had to bounce back. Leading up to the tournament, the Rams focused on spending time together as a team and playing confidently.

“I thought we regrouped incredibly well from losing a disappointing match a week ago,” Reid said. “We were very focused and prepared to play our best volleyball this weekend, so [I’m] incredibly proud of how we did that in a short period of time.”

Team captain and graduating senior, Theanna Vernon, played her last game as a Ram with an all-star performance of 12 kills and six total blocks.

Vernon has made a significant impact on the team’s performance the past few years, and was named Ryerson’s player of the game on Sunday. Despite the loss of Vernon, the roster looks promising going into the team’s next season. Cailin Wark, Brett Hagarty and Lauren Veltman also led the team in points behind Vernon.

“She’s a transformative player in the history of our school and the history of our volleyball program,” said Reid. “It’s hard to believe I’m going to walk into the gym next fall and Theanna isn’t going to be there.”

With the 2018-19 season over, the team will start off-season work for next year once exams are over.

“We’re very proud to represent Ryerson,” said Reid. “We’re really happy when we get to play the best we’re capable of and show the country what our school can do.”

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