The nation’s top-ranked University of Toronto Varsity Blues women’s volleyball team defeated Ryerson University 3-1 in the bronze-medal “Final Four” match at the Goldring Centre on Saturday, March 11. The women claim their sixth provincial medal in as many years. Also, the bronze medal gives them their fourth since the 2011-12 season.
It was anticipated that the women would undeniably make it to the championship game after going 19-0 during the regular season. They finished as the OUA East division champions, and earned their hosting right to the OUA Final Four after a 3-0 quarter-final win over Waterloo last weekend. They lost to the Western Mustangs, who are ranked ninth in the country. It was their first loss in over two years.
Varsity Blues player of the match and OUA East player of the year Alina Dormann led all players on the evening with a game-high 29 points, with 28 kills and one service ace. Dormann was assisted by OUA East first team all-star Madelyn Mandryk, who notched a game-high 45 assists, while libero Asli Ersozoglu registered a team-high 17 digs defensively. For the Rams, OUA first team all-star Theanna Vernon dominated at the net, scoring 22 points with 13 kills, six blocks, and three service aces. Outside hitters Lauren Veltman and Veronica Livingston were close behind, with 15.5 and 14 points, respectively. OUA East first team all-star libero Julie Longman led all players defensively with a game-high 28 digs, while setter Kate McIlmoyle recorded 29 assists.
The Blues began the game against Ryerson on a high note, as Anna Licht entertained the crowd with two blocks before finding an open spot on the opponent’s side of the court to push ahead early. The Blues kept delivering Ryerson all they could handle, and ultimately won the first set 25-19.
The second set featured back-and-forth action as the Rams began to find their rhythm, capitalizing on the inside presence of Vernon, the Rams player of the match. The dominant inside force helped keep the set close, but Toronto was still too much, taking it 25-23.
The momentum remained with the Rams into the third as Vernon teamed up with Livingston to jump ahead of the Blues, putting them into a hole they couldn’t climb out of. This forced a fourth set, with a 25-19 third-set win.
Mandryk continuously delivered to her favourite target in Dormann, who is a notoriously hard-hitter. The Blues secured the bronze medal with a 25-23 fourth set win.
Although their ultimate goal was winning the gold medal, it was still satisfying knowing the Blues managed to receive a medal on home court.