Emma Kikulis/THE VARSITY

Coming off a win against the Queen’s Gaels the night before, the Varsity Blues women’s volleyball team showed no sign of fatigue on Saturday evening when they took on the Royal Military College (RMC) Paladins. The top ranked team in the province, the Blues thrashed the number seven Paladins in straight sets, going 25-13, 25-9, 25-15.

From the first set, it was clear that the relatively short RMC team was no match for the defending OUA champions, who have five players bridging 6’0” and haven’t dropped a set in the past 10 games. Despite some strong serves, the Paladins were no match for unreturnable spikes by left and right sides Caleigh Cruickshank and Alina Dormann. The duo led the Blues in kills, racking up 12 and five respectively. 

The second and third sets saw some young players make their mark on the court, including setter Erin Jacobs and outside hitter Olivia van Baaren, the latter of whom contributed four kills and five digs to the group. Although the Paladins opened the scoring in the second, the Blues were quick to recover, taking back the lead with a sharp serve from third year middle Tessa Davis. Cruickshank served for the second, and after a short rally, the Blues came out with 16points on the Paladins. The third set saw some hard hits from van Baaren and memorable blocks by the trio of Bojana Radan, Jacobs, and Cruickshank — the latter of whom was named player of the game. 

The women have now completed a 14 game winning streak and have posed themselves as the third in the CIS in kills per set with an average of 12.86.

On the men’s side, the Blues came into Saturday night’s game with the previous evenings loss against the Gaels in mind, which showed through tough opening sets against the RMC. The Paladins opened the scoring on a Blues serve, which was quickly matched by a kill from Blues right side William Colucci. The teams went neck and neck throughout the set, never more than a kill or two behind the other, before left side Alex Ferris served for the win, putting the Blues at a close 25-22 to take the first set.

In the second, the Paladins were quick to take the lead and didn’t give it up until, an ace by setter Aleska Miladinovic and a kill from middle Nathaniel Virgo put the Blues ahead by two. Despite the surge, the Blues continued to be thwarted by strong serves and spikes from RMC’s outside hitter Adam Lupton, who contributed eight kills and two aces to the squad. The Blues wouldn’t lead for long, eventually dropping the second 24-26 to the Paladins.

Both squads looked evenly matched going into the third, but an early tip by Colucci seemed to reinvigorate the Blues who soon led the Paladins by four kills — the biggest margin of the game thus far. After several kills by Colucci and blocks by Virgo and middle Zia Karim, the Blues were ahead by 10 kills, eventually taking the set 25-10.

The Blues had found a new gear, and not long into the fourth, broke an early lead by the Paladins with a kill from standout Colucci. Keeping with the momentum, Colucci served five in a row before the Paladins could break him, but the deficit was too high to make up; the Blues took the fourth, and the game going 25-22, 24-26, 25-10, 25-18. Colucci, who won player of the match, contributed 25 kills and nine digs to the victory. The men currently sit in the fourth spot on the OUA leaderboard. 

The next home game for the women will be on February 7, when they take on Lakehead at 3:00 PM at Goldring. The men return home on February 14 to battle the Guelph Gryphons at 1:00 PM Goldring. 

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