Photo by Don Voaklander

Rams sweep Dinos to advance to U SPORTS semifinal

By Jessica Pincente

EDMONTON — The no. 6 Ryerson Rams put their dominant tendencies on display in a 3-0 (25-21, 25-15, 25-21) sweep over the no. 3 Calgary Dinos in the U SPORTS quarter-finals on Friday night in Edmonton.

The Rams will advance to face the host Alberta Pandas in the national semifinals tomorrow night at 8:00 PM MDT/10:00 PM EST.

The Rams would kick off the game with a commanding run in the first set, pulling ahead 11-6 early on in the match. The Dinos wouldn’t let the Rams gain a significant lead, keeping the score within five points for the majority of the set; Ryerson went on to close the first with a 25-21 win over Calgary. The Rams’ hot start was exactly what the team was seeking in the match, says head coach Dustin Reid.

“I think we were excited to play a great team and be back in this environment,” says Reid. “We didn’t play our best last week so it was nice to get out and try to erase that memory.”

Ryerson’s Theanna Vernon (Scarborough, Ont.) led the Rams with three total blocks after the first set, while outside hitter Lauren Veltman (Brampton, Ont.) had four kills in the opening frame.

The second set was Ryerson’s most dominant of the match; recording just two errors in the set, the Rams would close off the second with a 25-15 win over Calgary. Veltman, Vernon and Cailin Wark (Georgetown, Ont.) each had seven kills for the Rams after two.

The third set seemed to follow a similar formula. The Rams dominated the opening few points and squashed any and all of Calgary’s comeback attempts. A 25-15 win in the third set secured a 3-0 dominant quarter-final win for the no. 6 Rams, who advance to the U SPORTS semifinals for the second consecutive year.

Ryerson’s Wark says she was proud of the team’s flawless execution against Calgary.

“Having that good start going into tomorrow is key,” says Wark. “Our serve-receive was amazing today, and our in-system and out-of-system play was really on point. That definitely helped us come out with the win.”

Vernon was named Ryerson’s Player of the Game after a 12 kill, four block performance in the national quarter-final. Wark finished the game with 12 kills and six digs, while Veltman tallied 14 digs and seven kills through three sets. Setter Lauren Wong (Scarborough, Ont.) recorded 34 assists and four service aces in the match.

Reid says the value of the 3-0 sweep was less significant in the bigger picture of the tournament.

“In a quarter-final game like this, you’re just trying to survive,” says Reid. “Whether you win 3-2 or 3-0, it doesn’t make any difference. Calgary used their amazing blocking and serving to put us on the defensive, but ultimately, we were really gritty tonight. I was proud of how resilient we were.”

The Rams will advance to face the no. 7 Pandas on Saturday night at the Saville Community Sports Centre in Edmonton.

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