Photo by Alex D'Addese

Rams look to defend national title against no. 3 Dinos

By Jessica Pincente

EDMONTON — The no. 6 Ryerson Rams will hit the court at the University of Alberta on Friday night to face off against the no. 3 Calgary Dinos in their first game of the 2019 U SPORTS National Championship tournament.

The Rams will hit the floor to defend their national title in their quarter-final matchup at 8:00 PM, facing off against the Dinos at the Saville Community Sports Centre in Edmonton.

Ryerson and Calgary enter the national tournament having seen similar results near the end of the regular season. A 19-5 record on the year saw the Dinos repeat as Canada West’s Regular Season Champions. Calgary went on to sweep back-to-back playoff series’ against the Manitoba Bisons and the UBC Thunderbirds, advancing to face the Trinity Western Spartans in the league finals.

Calgary would fall 3-0 (14-25, 18-25, 15-25) to the Spartans, advancing to the national championships as the number three seed after finishing the year as Canada West finalists.

These two teams aren’t unfamiliar opponents, either; at last year’s national championship tournament, the no. 4 seeded Rams upset the no. 1 Dinos in a 3-1 contest in the U SPORTS semifinals to advance to the gold medal final the next day.  

In terms of statistics, this year’s quarter-final opponents are extremely well-matched. Ryerson takes an edge in hitting percentage (.280 percent), pulling ahead of Calgary’s .242 attacking efficiency. Calgary boasts better attacking numbers as well (CGY — 12.6 kills per set; RYE — 12.36 kills per set), but the Rams have an advantage in service aces per set (CGY — 2.0 service aces per set; RYE — 2.33 service aces per set).

Both teams are strong at the net, but Calgary takes an edge in its season-long blocking numbers (CGY — 2.4 blocks per set; RYE — 2.25 blocks per set). The Rams will need to halt Calgary’s attacks while utilizing their own offensive weapons if they hope to succeed against the no. 3 Dinos.

Calgary’s Hannah Tanasichuk (Calgary, Alta.) will be looked upon as a key attacker throughout the tournament. The junior outside hitter led the team with 412 points on the year, averaging 3.27 kills per set in the regular season.

On the other side of the court, Ryerson’s Theanna Vernon (Scarborough, Ont.) will be looking to kick off her final tournament in the blue and gold with yet another MVP-worthy performance, while freshman setter and OUA Rookie of the Year Lauren Wong (Scarborough, Ont.) will look to carry her stellar regular-season play into nationals.

The quarter-final matchup can be streamed here. Be sure to follow the Ryerson Rams on Twitter (@RyersonRams) for in-game updates.

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