Rams fall to Marauders, no longer perfect in 2017
TORONTO - The streak is over for the Ryerson Rams women’s volleyball team. After starting the 2017 calendar year with five straight wins, the Rams fell 3-1 (14-25, 21-25, 25-22, 18-25) to the No. 10 McMaster Marauders on Coca-Cola Court Wednesday night.
The loss came despite a game-high 16 kill performance by Ryerson’s Veronica Livingston (Kelowna, B.C.). Her final smash of the contest, a big swat off the Marauders’ block following a nice bump set by Mady Timpany (Woodstock. Ont.) late in the fourth set, was the 1000th regular season kill of her career.
“She’s been an amazingly consistent performer as an offensive player during her entire time here,” said Rams’ head coach Dustin Reid following the game. “She came here as a middle blocker who was hopefully going to be a right side player and has blossomed into a left side player who’s defending in all six rotations and serve receiving and doing all of those things. While she’s remained remarkably consistent as an offensive player, her growth as an all-round volleyball player and I would say, in many ways, her growth as a person during her time here is what I’m most proud of.”
One of toughest serving teams in the country, McMaster came out swinging in the opening set. Extended serving runs by Rebecca Steckle and Joanna Jedrzejewska stifled Ryerson’s back row and forced starting setter Kate McIlmoyle (London, Ont.) to run her offence out of system on a number of occasions. Up 16-10 at the technical timeout, the Marauders’ Alicia Jack strung together a number of serves to put her side up 22-10. In the end, a kill by Jedrzejewska sealed it 25-14 for McMaster.
A quick look at the numbers made the difference between the two teams in that set pretty obvious. The Rams finished with nine kills and eight errors compared to the 13 kills and two errors the Marauders posted.
Ryerson seemed to turn things around in the second set though. Down early, they clawed all the way back to even things up at 16. Then, things went sour for the Rams.
Attempting to attack a ball set to the right side, McMaster’s Jill Eisenhauer swung, stumbled into the net and took out Ryerson’s Becky Zeeman (Ottawa, Ont.) who was going up for the block. Zeeman came down hard and wasn’t able to continue.
The incident clearly shook up the Rams. After trading points for a little while following the incident, the Marauders’ Katherine Zutautas put together five straight serves to give her squad the 25-21 victory. The last four McMaster points were kills.
“I think generally well,” said Reid when asked about how his team responded to Zeeman’s injury. “It wouldn’t be fair to our team to say you have to replace what (Zeeman) puts out on the floor and by that I mean mostly from an energy standpoint. I’m disappointed that we didn’t really battle at the end of the second set because we were in position to win that set. We let one run end the set and you can’t do that at this level.”
Down 2-0 going into the third, Ryerson didn’t look to be deterred. Livingston collected six kills in the set to give the Rams a chance to extend things to a fourth. Tied at 22, a couple of errors by the Marauders made it 24-22 for Ryerson. A kill by Cailin Wark (Georgetown, Ont.) ended things on the next play.
Coming off a 3-2 loss to the Toronto Varsity Blues on Saturday where they gave up a 2-0 advantage, it was clear that McMaster didn’t want to relive that nightmare. As a result, they came out firing in the fourth set.
Every aspect of their offence was clicking and the Marauders quickly found themselves up 13-6. That prompted Reid to substitute McIlmoyle for Timpany, but the move did little to close the gap. The Rams got within four on one occasion before McMaster pulled away once again down the stretch to take it 25-18.
“I think for McMaster, what makes them tough is when they control the ball, when they pass the ball well, then they can distribute the ball evenly to all of their players,” said Reid. “And they did that. Their four top kill-getters were all within a few of each other and when you do that, you’re really tough to beat.”
Jedrzejewska and Steckle led the Marauders with 13 kills while Maicee Sorensen added ten. Carly Heath finished with a team-high 14 digs.
Ryerson’s Theanna Vernon (Scarborough, Ont.) posted seven kills and five blocks while McIlmoyle had 26 assists and a career-high 14 digs.
The loss drops the Rams’ record to 11-4. They remain in second place in the OUA East division. McMaster, meanwhile, improves to 11-3. They currently sit second in the OUA West.
Ryerson will look to get back to their winning ways when they travel to Peterborough, Ont. on Saturday to take on the Trent Excalibur (3-10). In their previous meeting at the end of the first semester, the Rams came away with a 3-0 victory. First serve is scheduled to fly at 6:00 p.m.
NOTES: The win is the Marauders first-ever at the Mattamy Athletic Centre’s Coca-Cola Court. They’re now 2-1 there all-time… Livingston’s 16 kills against McMaster is a career-high against the Hamilton, Ont. institution. She finishes her OUA regular season career with 68 kills against the Marauders.