Rams get back on track against Gryphons
TORONTO - Right when the Ryerson Rams women’s volleyball team needed her most, Theanna Vernon (Scarborough, Ont.) delivered. Taking on the Guelph Gryphons, one of the hottest teams in the province this semester, Vernon collected 15 kills and only one error on 26 total attacks to lead the Rams to a 3-1 victory (21-25, 25-7, 25-20, 25-15) at the Mattamy Athletic Centre Friday night.
Along with her excellent offensive performance, the third year middle blocker added six solo blocks, two block assists and two service aces.
“She’s definitely the centrepiece to our offence,” said Ryerson’s assistant coach Emily Betteridge about Vernon after the game. “We want to go to her when we can. I thought that (setter) Kate (McIlmoyle) used her really well and we got her going so she was feeling confident. She was also a big force for us at the net so that’s always good for us to set up around from a defensive perspective.”
Following a spotless January of regular season action where they went 4-0 and were named the OUA Female Team of the Month, the Rams fell 3-1 to the McMaster Marauders on February 8th and needed five sets to slay the Trent Excalibur in Peterborough, Ont. on Saturday. Those recent struggles seemed to seep into the first set of this one.
Tough serving by Guelph forced Ryerson to play out of system frequently and resulted in a number of errors on offence. The Rams played a few points behind the Gryphons for the majority of the set and couldn’t close that gap down the stretch as Guelph took it 25-21. Ryerson finished with ten kills and seven attack errors in the set.
Adjusting to life without Becky Zeeman (Ottawa, Ont.) after she broke her leg against McMaster, new starters Kristine Yan (Markham, Ont.) and Jade Griffiths (Windsor, Ont.) settled in as the match wore on. Their play, and that of the rest of the Rams, completely turned around in the second set. Nobody was better than Vernon though. She racked up seven kills on eight attacks and two solo blocks to power Ryerson a dominant 25-7 victory.
Knotted at one set apiece, the Rams continued to roll in the third. Up 18-16, Veronica Livingston (Kelowna, B.C.) picked up a big kill before Lauren Veltman (Brampton, Ont.) collected a service ace. That gave Ryerson a four point advantage and forced the Gryphons to take a timeout. The two sides traded points the rest of the way before an attack error by Guelph’s Victoria Golebiowski sealed it 25-21 for the Rams.
With the win in sight, Ryerson refused to let off the gas pedal. McIlmoyle (London, Ont.) continued to run a quick offence that spread the ball to a variety of hitters and consistently left the Gryphons one step behind. Up 20-15, Veltman wrapped up the set and the match with five straight serves including one of her game-high four service aces.
“I think it was a really important game for us to come out, especially after the weekend that we had with our game against Trent,” said Betteridge. “The goal was to come out strong in the first set and obviously we didn’t execute that as well as we would have liked, but we responded really well and I think those next three sets showed the type of team are.”
Yan finished with nine kills and eight digs while McIlmoyle had 37 assists. Julie Longman (Newmarket, Ont.) added a game-high 14 digs.
Golebiowski, meanwhile, finished with team-high ten kills while Libby Donevan had eight, five of which came in the first set alone.
The victory boosts the Rams’ record to 13-4 and extends their winning streak to two while Guelph falls to 11-6.
Ryerson will be back on the court for their final regular season contest at home Saturday afternoon. They’ll host the Waterloo Warriors (8-8) at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.
Graduating seniors Livingston, Yan and Zeeman will be honoured beforehand for their time with the Rams.
“It’s a super fun day for the seniors,” said Betteridge, who graduated herself last season. “We try to make it special with things throughout the afternoon and then we go into the game… But, we just want to focus on the task at hand, play a good match and come out strong. Hopefully the girls can play a good one for our seniors.”
First serve is scheduled to fly at 4:00 p.m.
NOTES: Vernon’s 15 kills and 24 points are both season highs... Rams Live (the team of student broadcasters that put on all of Ryerson’s home games) will be having their second annual Takeover during Saturday’s game. Their entire broadcast crew, from the producer to the play-by-play commentator, will be female that night… The Rams will wrap up the 2016-17 regular season on Saturday, February 25th when they fly to Thunder Bay, Ont. to take on the Lakehead Thunderwolves (4-14).