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Aussie rules on the volleyball court

It’s not the first time the RDC volleyball Kings had a setter from Australia.

The Kings had Nick Bell on their roster two years ago, so when head coach Aaron Schulha contacted Sam Brisbane about coming to Canada this season he had a good idea of the calibre of athlete he was getting.

And he hasn’t been disappointed.

Brisbane, a native of Melbourne, has taken over the starting role on the Kings who are No. 1 in Canada, in the rankings which came out Tuesday.

The 19-year-old knew coming out of high school he would have to leave his home country to play college ball.

“There’s no real college sports there, so to go on I had to look overseas,” he explained. “I looked at colleges in Canada and Aaron got back to me about a scholarship and from all I learned about the college it seemed like a good fit in terms of education as well as athletics. It’s a good school with a good history and a good approach.”

After contacting Schulha, Brisbane started looking more into the Kings.

“I looked up everything I could and what I saw online looked very good with the eight national championships in a row, and everything else.”

So far he’s enjoying his time at RDC and in Red Deer.

“I like the snow, but not the cold,” he said with a laugh. “But I’m enjoying it here. The skill level across the board is very good. In Australia you’ll have a high level of athlete and it drops down. Here it’s overall higher.”

Brisbane didn’t know Bell, but knew his brother, who plays professionally. Bell spent just one year at RDC while Brisbane will be back next year.

“I want to finish my degree (commerce), which takes five years, so I plan on being here two and then move on,” he said.

Brisbane didn’t have the Kings starting position handed to him as he battled third-year Hunting Hills grad Travis Czainski for the job. At six-foot-three he does have height over the six-foot Czainski. He’s also strong at the net when it comes to blocking the other team’s power hitters.

“I hate it when guys hit the ball off my hands, I find it a challenge to block the hitters,” said Brisbane, who is also working on other aspects of his game.

“I still need work on being more consistent,” he said. “That’s why I like playing teams that challenge us. I like it when I’m challenged defensively and I’m involved in the digs. When you’re good at that everything else flows from there.”

The Kings sport an 8-0 record, although they’ve been challenged more than once. Twice they’ve lost their first two sets in a match before coming back to win.

The last time was Saturday when they downed the University of Alberta, Augustana Vikings 3-2.

Schulha planned on working in practice on being more consistent, something Brisbane knows they’ll need as they move along.

“We still need work in a couple of areas and one is consistency,” he said.

Where the Kings stand in that area will show this week as they face NAIT in a home-and-home series — Friday at RDC and Saturday in Edmonton.

The women get underway at 6 p.m. with the men to follow.

The Queens, 6-2, will have their hands full with the Ooks, who are seventh in Canada and sport an 8-0 record.

• The basketball squads, including the No. 1 ranked Kings, face SAIT Thursday in Calgary and Saturday at RDC. Once again the women tip off at 6 p.m. with the men to follow.

The Kings have also been holding their second annual Christmas tree fund raiser.

Anyone can get a tree by going to www.rdc.ab.ca/christmastree. Pick up and delivery are available with free delivery on all trees prepaided by Dec. 1. They offer premium quality Balsam Firs with the sale going to Dec. 17.

• The hockey Queens return to action after two weeks off as they face Grant MacEwan Griffins Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Arena and Friday in Edmonton,.

• Two members of the cross-country team — Devin Woodland and Keiran McDonald — along with coach Jodi Sanguin and several high school runners, will compete in the Athletics Canada junior and senior championships Saturday in Vancouver.

• Volleyball dominated the Boston Pizza RDC athlete of the week voting.

Tim Finnigan, who had 33 kills, an ace, 16 digs and two blocks in a weekend sweep of the Vikings, took the top male award.

The women’s award went to Amber Adolf, who had 26 kills, an ace, 18 digs and three blocks in a two-match sweep of Augustana.

• The soccer Kings, who placed fourth in the ACAC, received the Breathing Room Yoga Studio and Café team of the week award.

 
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