Women’s Volleyball falls to UofT in OUA Semifinals

Season comes to an end for Gaels after thrilling five-set battle

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Supplied by Athletics and Recreation

The 2021-22 season has come to close for the Queen’s women’s volleyball team, but it was a battle that lasted until the very end.

The Toronto Varsity Blues prevailed against the Gaels 3-2 in the OUA semifinals at the Goldring Centre in Toronto on Mar. 16—ranked second in the country—came back from a 2-1 deficit to force a fifth set, which ultimately fell in their favor.

In a dominant fashion, Toronto settled into the game and took an early 8-2 lead in the first set, which Queen’s would not be able to recover—the shaky start allowed Toronto to win it 14-25. 

“We started off not really playing the way we wanted to play. I think that comes from a little bit of nerves, [and] a little bit of pressure,” head coach Ryan Ratushniak said in an interview with The Journal.

But Queen’s recuperated, and the second set was a different story.

The Gaels picked up the pace and scoring between teams stayed on even keel—it was a constant battle for gaining control and momentum.

“We were serving the ball the way we wanted to and putting [Toronto] in trouble and keeping them out of system,” Ratushniak said.

“Our blockers were doing a good job. We were triple blocking on one of their outside attackers quite a bit, so that was working well for us.”

In the third set, it was clear Queen’s had flipped the script. They harnessed all the energy they could to put the Varsity Blues in a troublesome position.

The Gaels opened up a five-point lead to make it 23-18, and it proved to be insurmountable—Queen’s took the third set, 25-21.

But with their backs against the wall, Toronto wasn’t done.

The fourth set was a Varsity Blues resurgence. They forced the set to extra points and took it 27-25.

Queen’s thrives on running four lanes of offense and having good reception—Ratushniak credited Toronto for making it difficult for the Gaels to execute these strengths as the game went on.

In the fifth set, Queen’s was down early 2-7, and they scored three straight points to cause a Toronto timeout at 5-7. But the Varsity Blues retained their lead and won the deciding set 15-10, marking a heartbreaker loss for the Gaels.

“There's a lot of mixed emotions,” Ratushniak said, reflecting on the loss. “The players are definitely disappointed. But [I’m] feeling very proud of everything that they've done this year and all [their] hard work and dedication.”

“We can't ask our players to do any more than they did. They battled and they supported each other. They played with a lot of heart, [and] a lot of pride.”

OUA All-Rookie Hannah Duchesneau, ArtSci ’24, was a key player for the Gaels during the semifinal match, leading the team with 15 kills and putting up six blocks, two aces, and 14 digs.

Mary Stewart, ConEd ’24 and OUA Second Team All-Star, wasn’t far behind her fellow rookie, finishing the game with 10 kills and 12 digs.

Libero Vivian Zanutel, ArtSci ’23, finished with a team-high 25 digs, and setter Lauryn Colpitts, ArtSci ’22, recorded a team-high 44 assists.

While processing the season’s end, Ratushniak said he’s taking time to reflect not only on the team’s results, but the journey it took to get them to Wednesday’s game.

“We didn't get the result, but the journey and what we did along the way, all the players can take that with them for the rest of their lives moving forward,” Ratushniak said.

According to Ratushniak, the team had an emotional and profound talk after the game.

 “Everyone went around the room and talked about how [this is] the strongest and most supportive team they've ever played on,” he said.

 “We have such a deep roster of talented, strong, young women. It's going to be a great team moving forward.”

The Varsity Blues will face the Brock Badgers in the Quigley Cup Final this Saturday. 

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