Whether it rains or shines, the Varsity Blues’ women’s volleyball team has an answer.
Last year’s OUA bronze medalists from the University of Toronto came into the 2012-13 season ranked as one of the best teams in the CIS.
Even with their season opening loss, there’s no denying that the Blues’ are going to be a strong and formidable foe all season long.
Coach Kristine Drakich’s squad benefits from the return of last season’s all-rookie team member Denise Wooding, and first-team all-star Charlotte Sider.
But what makes this team strong is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
“We look different, depending on the weather and depending on the day, we can all be very strong and we can have different people that can lead in terms of contributing points,” said Drakich. “That’s the beauty of this team, there isn’t one that we completely look to.”
Take Friday’s victory over Western for example. Fourth-year player Alexandra Hudson and Wooding led the team in kills, while Sarah Chapin dominated the serving game.
Against Ryerson and Brock however, the Varsity Blues were led in kills by Sider, and fifth-year player Malena Rapaport led the team in serving aces.
Having this kind of diversity, and a team chock full of athletic talent allows Drakich to interchange, and substitute players with confidence.
“What’s nice … is the ability to seamlessly make changes,” said the coach who is in her 24th season at the helm of the Varsity Blues.
It allows the squad to adapt to any opponent, any lineup, and any situation just by revolving their rotation to give the opposition a different look that favours Toronto.
“We’re a team that likes to play our way, and force the opponent to make some adjustments. And then we adapt,” said Drakich.
“We’re a really tough serving team and we’re a strong blocking team … If we can serve tough, and then put them out of system a little bit, then we can block.”
What allows them to do this is having an all-around athletic team that’s willing to take risks.
This doesn’t mean Toronto is a high risk-high reward team.
It’s simply that they need to be aggressive and willing to take risks in order to control the tempo of the game to make the opposition adapt to their strengths.
This was evident in the Varsity Blues game versus Western as Drakich’s aggressive style seeped onto the court.
“I think we played aggressively … even when we were down we still swung hard. Even if it was out those are good hits,” said Chapin.
It was this type of play that allowed Toronto to go 12-1 in the pre-season.
Despite a season-opening loss to Ryerson, the Varsity Blues have strung together back-to-back wins, and it seems that this Toronto squad is going to be settling in to another long, and productive season.
And with a history of success, and a team full of talent, means this team can challenge and adapt to any opponent; no matter the weather.