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Jones has played major role for top ranked Kings

Coming out of high school in the spring of 2011 Chris Jones was one of the top recruits in the province.

RDC Kings volleyball head coach Aaron Schulha expected the Edmonton Strathcona High School grad, who also played in the always strong Northern Alberta Volleyball Club program, to challenge for a starting spot on the left side. But all that changed when he broke a bone in his wrist prior to attending camp.

“That was a set back and I was limited in what I could do,” said the six-foot-three 19-year-old. “I was out a month and a half, although the doctors originally said I’d be out three to four months, including rehab. But I pushed through it and with the help of (athletic therapist) Robyn (Bagley) I came back a lot earlier.”

Jones found it difficult to sit on the sidelines for most of the first half of last season.

“It sucked to be sitting and watching the team grow and develop,” he said. “I was glad to get back as quickly as I did and start to jell with the guys.”

Once back Jones saw some backup time, which was a perfect preparation for this season. He has stepped in as a starting power hitter and played a major role as the Kings have been one of the top rated teams in the country most of the season. They were ranked No.1 for a good portion of the year, but slipped to third after splitting a pair of matches with Medicine Hat last weekend.

“It may have been good for us to lose that one match,” said Jones.

“It took some pressure off. We’re not perfect any more and it was good to lose earlier than later.”

The Kings will have another tough test this weekend as they host Briercrest Bible College Clippers in a weekend doubleheader. The women get underway at 6 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Saturday with the men to follow.

The Kings go into the weekend with a 15-1 record while Briercrest, who’s ranked sixth nationally, sit at 14-2. Medicine Hat and SAIT are both 13-3.

The Kings can wrap up first place with a sweep of BBC or by splitting the two matches and sweeping Olds College in their final two matches of the season.

Jones knows they can wrap up top spot, but isn’t looking far ahead.

“We’re concentrating on reaching our peak and I don’t think we’re there yet,” he said.

The Kings looked close to perfect two weeks ago when they took both matches from SAIT, but weren’t perfect against Medicine Hat.

“SAIT was big, but we can’t focus on that, we have to prepare to play against Briercrest as they’ll be just as tough.”

Jones sits third on the team in kills with 1.8 per set, but feels his strength may be on defence.

He’s second on the team in digs with 118 and 2.0 per set. Only libero Patrick McIntyre is ahead of him with 145 and 2.3 per set.

“I definitely think my passing is a strength,” said Jones. “I want to keep it consistent at all times and if other parts of my game aren’t as good I can still help keep the team together with strong passing and defence.”

A change in the Kings rotation after Christmas also took some pressure off Jones on the outside. Schulha moved Chris Osborn from the right side to the middle creating more blocking and offence.

“With Chris in the middle it spreads the offence out more and we just don’t always go to the outside,” added Jones, who hopes to spend one more season with the Kings.

“And then look at the CIS. I’d love to go home (to the University of Alberta) and play. They have an excellent team so I may have to do some talking,” he said with a smile.

The volleyball Queens, who are ranked fifth in Canada, have a 14 game winning streak and can wrap up first place by sweeping BBC and Olds.

• The basketball teams are on the road this weekend travelling to Caronport, Sask., for a twin bill against Briercrest. It’s a huge weekend for the Kings, who are tied for first with the Clippers, who are ranked No. 1 in Canada. The Kings are third.

The Queens have a four-game winning streak heading in against BBC, who are two points back of the Queens.

• The hockey Queens play a pair of non-conference games this weekend in Beechy, Sask., against a senior all-star team. They return to league play Feb. 7 against NAIT.

• The RDC curling teams compete in the ACAC Winter Bonspiel at the Avonair Curling Club in Edmonton. The ‘spiel will determine the teams going to the ACAC finals, Feb. 22-24 in Olds. The RDC men and mixed teams are tied for fourth and the final playoff spot. with the women sixth.

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

Kings Rob Pierce was player of the game in both wins over St. Mary’s University College of Calgary, accumulating 40 rebounds and 38 points and received the top male award.

First year guard Amrei Bondzio of Munich, Germany, turned in two strong performances as the Queens took both ends of a twin bill from St. Mary’s. She had 25 points, six assists and nine steals in the two games. She also nailed a game-winning three-point basket with three seconds left in a 51-48 win in Calgary Saturday.

Volleyball Queens libero Maddi Quinn was also in the running for the women’s award.

• The track team received the Breathing Room Yoga Studio and Cafe team of the week award after a strong performance at the Nike Indoor Challenge in Edmonton.



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