Best ever revisits RDC roots
During his time with the Canadian national volleyball team and playing professionally in Europe, Brock Davidiuk has seen his share of gyms.
But there will always be something special about the RDC main gym.
“I love it back here, it’s like it’s a magical gym,” said Davidiuk after helping the RDC Alumni A down the RDC Kings 25-23, 29-27, 25-23 in the final of the Ramada Inns Challenge Cup volleyball tournament at RDC Saturday.
“When I was 17 and deciding where I’d go after high school I played a very good match here and that was part of the turning point for me to come to RDC. It had good energy. I know when I take the exit to come into the city I feel it’s my second home,” said the 29-year-old native of Edmonton.
Davidiuk and Nicholas Cundy arrived at RDC at the beginning of the 2001-02 season. Two years later they were part of the best college volleyball team of all time. The 2002-03 team, which also included Dallas Soonias and Kings head coach Aaron Schulha, were undefeated against college competition.
They beat every university team in the country, except the No. 1 ranked University of Alberta Golden Bears, who they lost to 3-2 in a early season exhibition match. They also split two matches at BYU. BYU went on to finish No. 2 in the NCAA.
The only college team to beat Davidiuk and Cundy in their two years at RDC was to the SAIT Trojans.
“It was our first match at RDC in our first season,” said Davidiuk. “I think that loss put a chip on all our shoulders and set the tempo for the rest of the time we were here. I remember when Rob Ellis was blocked their setter said ‘welcome to college’ and that gave us all a mean streak which didn’t leave until we were finished in 2003. It didn’t matter who we played we had that and it worked out well.”
Davidiuk played 12 years in one national program or another, spending most of the last seven with the senior national program, either with the A or B team.
He also played pro after finishing at the University of Alberta.
This is the first season he won’t be with the national team or playing professionally.
“I’ve committed to volleyball my whole career,” he said. “Since I was 15 all I ever wanted to do was to play. It’s been the biggest chapter of my life and it’s time to take a breath.”
He plans on doing some travelling and may look at coaching.
“But I may see what else there’s outside of volleyball,” he said. “For me that may be tough, but there are other things.”
He could return to play pro, but isn’t sure that’s what’s on his agenda.
“It was a good life experience, but it’s not the same as playing in Canada,” he said. “You look at the guys here today. No one is greedy or selfish. We play as a team. Overseas it’s more as individuals and that’s not appealing to me. Over there you look out for No. 1 and I don’t thrive on that. It was a different atmosphere, but then I always wanted to play pro and I also enjoyed it.”
Davidiuk is one of the best leaders ever to put on an RDC uniform. That was evident during the weekend, and is something Schulha hopes rubs off on his troops.
“His body is falling a part a bit. He doesn’t jump like he used to, but he thinks the game so well and is someone we can learn from,” said Schulha. “You can also look at Nick (Cundy). He was the X-factor as he’s not far off the national team. They wanted this more than we did.”
Schulha didn’t have six-foot-eight right side Chris Osborn for the semifinal or final after he was hit by food poisoning.
“It would have been good to have him, but it was good for Braden O’Toole to get all the extra playing time,” said Schulha. “We wanted to win, but this weekend was a great learning experience for us.”
The Kings led all three sets in the final, but couldn’t put it away.
“I think we’re playing at a good level, but we still need to work on a few technical things and eliminate a few errors,” said Schulha. “As well we have to learn to start putting teams away when we have the chance. We have to do better at sustaining leads and building on them.”
The Kings reached the final with a 25-21, 25-27, 27-25, 25-23 win over the Alumni B team in the quarter-final and a 15-25, 25-15, 25-17, 25-22 win over the Central Alberta Christian High School Alumni in the semifinals.
The Alumni A team beat the University of Alberta, Augustana 25-16, 25-22, 25-22 in the quarter-finals and the University of Calgary Alumni 25-23, 25-19, 25-19 in the semifinals.
The other quarter-finals saw CACHS downed Olds College 20-25, 256-19, 25-20,. 25-12 and the U of C stop Lakeland College 25-23, 19-25, 25-16, 25-14.
In consolation play Augustana downed Lakeland 21-25, 25-15, 24-26, 25-19, 15-13.
The Kings meet the Briercrest Bible College Clippers in exhibition play Thursday in Three Hills and then are off until they open the ACAC season, Oct. 26 at Grant MacEwan. They host MacEwan Oct. 27.