TORONTO - The Ryerson Rams women’s volleyball team fell 3-0 (21-25, 17-25, 21-25) to the No. 8 McMaster Marauders in OUA semifinal action Friday night at the Goldring Centre in Toronto. The loss moves the Rams to Saturday evening’s bronze medal match against the host No. 1 University of Toronto Varsity Blues who were upset in five sets by the No. 9 Western Mustangs earlier on Friday. First serve is scheduled to fly at 6:00 p.m and will be available live at OUA.tv.BOXSCORE
Although the Rams have been plagued by slow starts all season, they came out hot in this one. Much like they did in their OUA quarterfinal victory over the Guelph Gryphons, Ryerson refused to let anything hit the floor in the early goings. The play of libero Julie Longman (Newmarket, Ont.), Cailin Wark (Georgetown, Ont.) and Veronica Livingston (Kelowna, B.C.) in the back row extended many rallies and motivated the Rams’ offence. At one point, Ryerson held a 13-4 edge before the Marauders began to battle back.
A number of attack and service errors by Ryerson gave the Marauders the chance to crawl back into the opening set. With the Rams up 16-13 at the technical timeout, McMaster’s offence began to pour it on. Strong performances by outside hitter Joanna Jedrzejewska and middle Maicee Sorensen proved to be difference as the Marauders took the first set 25-21.
“We had a good game plan going into this game and we came out executing it really well at the beginning,” said Rams head coach Dustin Reid following the game. “I think McMaster had to kind of sit back and see what we were trying to do and try to make some adjustments… We started out great but I think we got a little tight when we were up. I think we tried to protect our lead we had instead of focusing on the next rallies ahead… I have to give credit to MacMaster. From that point forward, they defended and managed their game as well as any team I’ve seen this season.”
Ryerson’s offence operated at only 6.7% in the opening set. That number was largely due to McMaster’s strong defensive presence both at the net and in the backcourt. Unfortunately for the Rams, their offensive trouble continued in the second set.
Down 16-15 at the technical timeout, Ryerson fell apart down the stretch. The Marauders consistently stifled the Rams by digging up balls and running a quick transition offence. As a result, McMaster grabbed nine of the next 11 points to take the set 25-17 and a commanding 2-0 advantage.
Looking for a spark, Jade Griffiths (Windsor, Ont.) entered the game to start the third set for Ryerson and made an impact almost immediately. Knotted at four, she combined with Lauren Veltman (Brampton, Ont.) for an enormous block on the left side. The third year outside hitter also collected a few kills and provided the Rams with some energy.
It wasn’t enough though as the Marauders took a 16-14 edge into the technical timeout and cruised to the 25-21 victory to complete the sweep. The win punched a ticket for McMaster to Saturday’s OUA Final and guarantees them a spot at nationals next weekend.
Livingston led Ryerson with eight kills while the Rams’ player of the game Theanna Vernon (Scarborough, Ont.) finished with seven kills and four solo blocks. Setter Kate McIlmoyle (London, Ont.) racked up 31 assists and a team-high 21 digs.
Jedrzejewska had a game-high 15 kills while Sorensen added 12. The Marauders’ libero and player of the game Carly Heath, meanwhile, finished with a jaw-dropping 40 digs.
“It’s a great opportunity for us,” said Reid about his squad’s upcoming clash with the Varsity Blues. “It’s a meaningful game. We’re playing for a medal. We’re playing for a colour of medal that our program has never won. We’re playing against a team that’s currently ranked number one in the country… If we want to be a great program, then we have to look at these matches as a chance to win. Nobody gets excited about trying to fight for a bronze medal, but I think it’s a real good test for us.”