Photo by Hung Le

Rams send off Vernon with dominant win over McMaster

By Jessica Pincente

TORONTO — The No. 1 Ryerson Rams dominated their way to a 3-0 (25-9, 25-19, 25-16) victory over the visiting McMaster Marauders on Sunday afternoon at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto.

The victory marked the final regular season game for graduating senior Theanna Vernon (Scarborough, Ont.), who capped off her career in the blue and gold with eight kills and five total blocks. Ryerson’s Lauren Veltman (Brampton, Ont.) led the team with 10 kills through three sets.  

Vernon tallied the first point of the game off a tip into McMaster’s centre court. The Rams would go on a 5-0 run to open up the match, establishing their dominance early on.

At the six-point mark of the game, Vernon would tally her second block assist of the match and her 1,226th career point, taking sole possession of Ryerson’s all-time points record in her final regular season game as a Ram.

“Veronica [Livingston] has had that record for a very long time and I didn’t think I would ever be in a position to take it,” says Vernon. “It goes to show what kind of program we’ve morphed into. We want to win and do well, and my team gave me the opportunity to achieve that this year.”

The Rams continued to control play through the remainder of the first set, taking a 25-9 win in the opening frame. Veltman led the Rams with six kills after one.

The Marauders would up their game in the second, surpassing their four-kill marker from the first set just six points into the second. Ryerson didn’t slow down, though, and emerged with a 25-19 win in the set.

The third saw the Marauders put up a difficult fight, taking a 3-0 lead early and staying neck-in-neck with Ryerson throughout. The patient Rams didn’t let McMaster pull away with a lead and eventually found their footing around the technical timeout. Ryerson earned a 25-16 win in the third set, making official yet another sweep to cap off the 2018-19 regular season.

In a picture-perfect moment on the Coca-Cola Court, Vernon would serve up her 114th career ace at match-point in her final regular season game with the Rams to secure victory for her team.  

“I didn’t think that was possible but it happened,” remarks Vernon about the ace. “It was an incredible moment in the game and I’m really proud of myself for that.”

A three-time OUA First-Team All-Star, Vernon graduates as Ryerson’s all-time leader in points, blocks, service aces, and hitting percentage. The captain was also named MVP of the 2018 U SPORTS National Championship after leading her team to Ryerson’s first-ever national title, and is the only athlete in school history to be named a finalist for the U SPORTS BLG Athlete of the Year award. Vernon will be missed on all ends of the court, says Rams head coach Dustin Reid.

“I hope people come out and enjoy watching her play because you’re not going to see anybody like her,” says Reid. “You’re not going to see anyone who’s put together like she is, who plays at the net like she does, who has her fierceness. She served balls in the first set that I haven't seen her serve all season.

“You can tell she’s ready to up her level. You can wait another 20 years and you’re not going to see an athlete like that walk onto the court here.”

Looking ahead, the Rams will host the Windsor Lancers next Saturday at 4:00 p.m. in the quarter-finals of the Quigley Cup playoffs.

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