Rams to meet Thunderbirds in national final
EDMONTON — After sweeping their semifinal match against the Alberta Pandas on Saturday night, the no. 6 Ryerson Rams will take on the no. 8 UBC Thunderbirds in the 2019 U SPORTS gold medal final on Sunday in Edmonton.
The Rams have advanced to the national championship match for the second consecutive season. The battle is set to begin at 6:00 PM MDT/8:00 PM EST at the Saville Community Sports Centre at the University of Alberta.
Back-to-back sweeps in Ryerson’s quarter- and semifinal games earned the defending national champions a spot in the gold medal final. The Rams will now look to bring home their second straight U SPORTS banner on Sunday evening as they face off against the Thunderbirds for just the second time in program history.
UBC’s path to the championship was dramatic, to say the least. The eighth-ranked Thunderbirds qualified for the national tournament after finishing their Canada West campaign as league semifinalists. The Thunderbirds would take a 3-2 win over the no. 1 Trinity Western Spartans in the U SPORTS quarter-finals on Friday and a 3-1 victory against the no. 4 Dalhousie Tigers on Saturday to secure a spot in the national final for the first time since 2017.
The two experienced teams will go head-to-head in what’s shaping up to be an incredible matchup. Rams head coach Dustin Reid says he’s extremely proud of his team’s efforts over the last two days, adding that he’s honored to have the opportunity to face off against the Thunderbirds in the national finals.
“It’s incredible to see what these kids have done in the last few days to give us a chance to play again today,” says Reid. “We’re so excited to have the chance to play UBC. It’s going to be an extremely tough match. ”
UBC’s Kiera Van Ryk (Surrey, B.C.) presents the biggest threat to the Rams’ banner hopes. The Canada West and U SPORTS Player of the Year, Van Ryk has been unstoppable for the Thunderbirds in their campaign to the gold medal final, totaling 47 kills and 31 digs so far in the national tournament.
The Rams will need to do their best to control Van Ryk on the outside while utilizing their deep lineup of attackers to wear down UBC’s defenses. Ryerson’s experienced roster will be a huge advantage for the Rams in this situation, but the Thunderbirds also boast a deep, veteran-filled team and will likely maintain a composed approach similar to the Rams.
Ryerson third-year outside hitter and 2018 national champion Lauren Veltman (Brampton, Ont.) says the Rams are ready and excited to return to the gold medal final, noting the team’s experienced lineup will likely play a pivotal role in the match.
“Our experienced team will be key for us in the finals,” says Veltman. “Everyone knows they’re supported and everyone knows they have a job to do. I’m confident that we’ll all get our jobs done.”
The game will be broadcasted live on USPORTS.live. Be sure to follow the Ryerson Rams on Twitter (@RyersonRams) for in-game updates.