TORONTO - To put it bluntly, Alina Dormann, a second year outside hitter for the No. 1 University of Toronto Varsity Blues, is pretty good at ruining things for the Ryerson Rams women’s volleyball team. When the two sides met in November of last year, Dormann racked up 29 kills to lead her side to a thrilling five set victory at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.
Dormann put together quite the encore Saturday night in the OUA bronze medal match at the Goldring Centre. She finished with 28 kills in the Varsity Blues’ four set victory over the Rams (19-25, 23-25, 25-19, 23-25). To put her performance in perspective, the next highest kill total for a University of Toronto attacker was nine.
Ryerson, meanwhile, was led by a couple of 13 kill performances from Theanna Vernon (Scarborough, Ont.) and Veronica Livingston (Kelowna, B.C.) while Lauren Veltman (Brampton, Ont.) added 12. Vernon also had four solo blocks, four block assists and three service aces to finish with 22 points. She was named the Rams’ Player of the Game.
“It’s disappointing to lose when there’s hardware on the line, but we know that our season isn’t over,” said Ryerson’s head coach Dustin Reid following the game. “We have to refocus, have some downtime and focus on next week.”
Coming off a shocking five set loss to the No. 9 Western Mustangs on home court last night, it was clear that the Varsity Blues had something to prove in this one. Up 16-10 at the technical timeout in the opening set, the University of Toronto continued to cruise as a number of different Rams entered the game looking to provide a spark.
Down 24-17, Vernon hammered a ball to the floor in the middle before Ryerson’s Cailin Wark (Georgetown, Ont.) put an attack off the block and out the back to make things interesting. Sadly, that would be as close as the Rams would get as Vernon’s next serve took a bad bounce off of the tape to end the set 25-19 in favour of the opposition.
In the second, Ryerson was able to grab an early lead. A service ace by Vernon put the Rams up 6-3 before the Varsity Blues took 11 of the next 14 points to lead 14-9. Then, a turning point for Ryerson as Veltman came off the bench to play as an outside hitter. Despite the fact the first year middle wasn’t in her usual position, she picked up a few crucial kills to shrink the University of Toronto advantage.
Trailing 24-19, the Rams refused to say die. A Vernon kill, Veltman-Vernon block, Vernon kill and Kate McIlmoyle (London, Ont.) service ace pulled Ryerson right back into the set. That’s when Dormann came through to crush the Rams’ hopes of completing the epic comeback. She fired a big kill down the line to end the set 25-23 and give the Varsity Blues a 2-0 lead.
In desperate need of a boost, Ryerson head coach elected to make a few changes to his lineup for the third set. First year setter Mady Timpany (Woodstock, Ont.) entered the game in place of McIlmoyle and the Rams rode the momentum from the end of the second set. Leads of 10-4 and 12-6 preceded a nasty slam by Vernon to send Ryerson to the technical timeout up 16-11.
Down the stretch, the stunning offence that both teams were putting on display was replaced by some very entertaining back row defence. Neither team let the ball fall as every point near the end of the set seemed to come after a long rally. The Rams kept up with the defensive intensity of University of Toronto though and took the set 25-19 to force a fourth.
“Obviously when we made some changes in the third set, you know, Mady (Timpany) and Lauren (Veltman) played some new positions there and they energized us a little bit,” said Reid. “I think that propelled up forward a little. We made a lot of little substitutions here and there and people came off the bench and performed.”
In the fourth set, it quickly became clear that the Varsity Blues weren’t interested in playing five sets for the second straight night. With the University of Toronto up 16-7 at the technical timeout, Ryerson began to slowly chip away though. A Veltman kill followed by two service aces cut the Varsity Blues’ lead to 20-19 and forced them to call a timeout.
From there, the University of Toronto got back on track. Up 24-23 on the Rams, Dormann fired a ball to the floor to end the set and secure the bronze medal for her squad.
McIlmoyle finished with 29 assists while Timpany added 15. Julie Longman (Newmarket, Ont.) led all players with a jaw-dropping 28 digs.
“I think when we played to our potential, (although) we weren’t able to be consistent throughout the match,” said Reid. “At times, when we executed the little things and kept the ball in play, we were right there with the number one team in the country. That’s encouraging moving into next week and if we can drum up the energy that we had in the final two sets and just find a hair more consistency, we’re going to be in great shape.”
The next time Ryerson hits the floor for a game, it will be at the 2017 U SPORTS Volleyball Championship at the Mattamy Athletic Centre on Friday night. Although their opponent is unknown at this time, it has been confirmed that they will play at 6:00 p.m.
“The reality is that it comes down to one match on Friday,” said Reid. “We have to prepare for that and be able to play the best version of volleyball that we can for that period of time and find a way to beat our competitor.”
More information about the championship will become available early next week.