Out of all of the sports offered at UTM, volleyball is one of the most active sports around the RAWC, although it is not always the most advertised. Despite this, the various volleyball programs are increasing in popularity every year. The most notable of these is women’s tri-campus.
The tri-campus women had a very exciting season this year from start to finish and managed to fight their way into a playoff position in a must-win final regular season game, beating Scarborough 3-0. The team worked hard throughout the year, and their appearance in playoffs for the first time in six years demonstrated the women’s confidence and how well they worked as a team. It showed that UTM volleyball is on the rise and finally ready to compete with the best after rebuilding for the past few years.
The Eagles ended their impressive season with a heartbreaking semi-final loss to St. George. The game was a five-set thriller that the women really deserved to win, in which they dominated the play and only small mistakes kept them from advancing. The final set, decided by a margin of just two points, showed how determined the Eagles were.
Despite their early exit in the semi-finals, coach Alex Singh was very happy with his team’s success this season. “This is the first year I’ve had this squad, so making it to playoffs for the first time in six years was a big achievement,” he says. “The team is still new and they are learning, but it was definitely a successful season.”
The volleyball program at UTM is currently in a transition period, with plans for the men’s and women’s teams to join the OCAA league in the coming years.
This league represents a level of play higher than what any UTM volleyball team is used to, and the team is excited and ready to compete.
“We’re constantly trying to push the volleyball program at UTM to a higher standard to get ready for varsity play,” says Singh, who took over the coaching position looking to emphasize skill development and teamwork. “The team has expressed their faith and belief in me this year, and I intend to continue to work my hardest [and be] as positive as possible.
“The coaching this year has been more strict and to the point, and we’ve played good volleyball as a result,” he adds. “For this year, we were trying to change it around and have a proper coaching aspect. It’s very rewarding when you’re playing and you see what you’ve been practising being translated onto the court, resulting in success. It’s the best part [about coaching].”
Captain Jessica Silva is also excited for the upcoming seasons after working very hard to lead the women into playoffs. “Although we were a new team, the one thing that made this team do so well through this season would be our strong mentality,” she said. The women’s resilience was particularly evident in their final two games, when they overcame several deficits to push their opponents for every point, no matter the score.
Looking ahead, the Eagles seem to be in very good shape. After the success of this season, it is clear that the women have developed a very strong sense of teamwork and their morale is high in practices and games.
“I’m really excited about next season because we’ll have a majority of the same girls coming back,” says Silva. “It’s about time that volleyball is taken seriously at UTM. Our chemistry is there, so all we need to work on is our technical skills in order to be prepared for the varsity level.”
The team is clearly very close-knit, with small mistakes being their only weakness throughout the season. Because of this, Singh believes that by focusing more on technical aspects, they can go further and possibly even win the Tri-campus Cup in the near future. “They’re good at working together, so we just need to practise skills a little more and we then we can look at tactical plays to help us become an even stronger team,” she says.
Although the season is finished for the Eagles, they are back in action on Friday in a tournament at Mississauga Secondary. The women will be looking to show that volleyball is back and better than ever at UTM.
This article has been corrected from the print edition. The photographer was credited as Caleb Siu instead of Zara Rizwan. A notice will be printed in the March 23, 2015 issue.