Women’s volleyball wins

Team earns first victory of the season against Ryerson

The women’s volleyball squad left Toronto on the weekend with their first win of the season. After losing Friday’s match to the University of Toronto Varsity Blues in three sets, the Gaels went to Ryerson on Saturday and took down the Rams in three sets.

The weekend brings the women’s record to 1-4. Head coach Joely Christian said the team showed improvement in Friday’s match despite the loss, which gave them momentum going into Saturday’s match.

“From a playing perspective, we were a lot more consistent,” she said. “We wanted to carry over that into the Ryerson game.”

Christian said there were several key differences between the team that played the first three games of the season and the team that achieved victory over the Rams.

“We made less errors; that’s probably the biggest improvement,” she said. “Our communication was better and we served tougher from start to finish.”

The season continues with a road game against the Royal Military College Paladins this week, and Christian said the Gaels need to maintain the same focus they had in Toronto.

“It will always be that we have to keep our errors low and be confident in the things we do well,” she said.

According to Christian, the Gaels are improving with each game.

“Every time we play our communication gets better and we gel a little bit more,” she said. “It’s still a work in progress.”

The team saw a surprise highlight in second-year outside hitter Elyssa Heller, who had eight kills and 15 digs on Friday and led the team with 10 kills on Saturday. Heller hadn’t seen much court time before the weekend but said she saw it as an opportunity to make a strong contribution.

“When I got on the court I was like, this is a chance for me to make a positive impact on our team and try to take a leading role,” she said.

Heller said the team meeting between the two games was the biggest contributor to their win on Saturday because it helped them become mentally prepared.

“We had a different line-up, but ultimately it was the debrief,” she said.

The team is implementing some extra help this season with the addition of grad student Angie Shen, who has experience coaching the Ontario provincial beach volleyball team. Heller said Shen has had a strong impact.

“She’s really cool,” Heller said. “She brings a lot of experience and knowledge about the game and being an athlete. She has a really good ability to connect with the players and understands what it’s like to being a player and a student.”

The work continues as the team looks ahead to the battle with RMC. Heller said her team has moments where things get shaky, but they balance each other well enough that they can work things out. She said they need to concentrate on improving each game and success will come.

“As long as you keep moving forward you’ll eventually get to where you want to be.”

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