In a lot of cases facing the host team in the opening round of the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association men’s volleyball championship would mean an easier road.
That’s certainly not the case for the RDC Kings.
The Kings go into the championships in London, Ont., Thursday, ranked second, and face the host Fanshawe College Falcons.
“They’re good,” stressed Kings head coach Aaron Schulha. “Most of the season they were ranked near the top with VIU (Vancouver Island University), but they lost in their provincials, so that was an upset.”
Schulha has watched video on the Falcons, who they face at 6 p.m. (MDT), and is impressed.
“They’re very physical and have an outstanding left side hitter in six-foot-seven James Jackson. They also have a very athletic setter and the bulk of their top seven players from last year, when they finished third, are back.
“Playing at home they will be hungry. Still we match up well. I feel from watching their video there are areas we can take advantage of.”
The defending national champion Kings will have a bulls eye on their backs, but that’s nothing new.
“We’re used to that … it happens every weekend at home. But that’s fine. It forces us to be better and the guys do a good job of handling the pressure.”
The Kings go into the championships after close to two weeks off and are relatively healthy.
“There’s wear and tear, which is normal at this time of the season,” said Schulha.
Middle Adam Turlejski missed most of the second half of the season with a back injury before returning for the ACAC finals and is close to 100 per cent as is setter Luke Brisbane (quad).
“Adam is improving every day while Luke just has to make sure he’s careful and should be better than a couple of weeks ago.”
The three-day tournament opens Thursday at 11 a.m. (MDT) with the Holland Hurricanes from Charlottetown, PEI facing the top-ranked Limoilou Titans from Quebec City. The Medicine Hat Rattlers clash with B.C. champion Camosun Chargers of Victoria at 1 p.m. and the VIU Marineers of Nanaimo take on the Mohawk Mountaineers of Hamilton at 4 p.m.
Lakeland College goes into the women’s nationals in Victoria Thursday ranked fourth and face Mount St. Vincent University of Halifax while fifth-ranked Grande Prairie clashes with Edouard-Montpetit of Longueuil, Que.
• Indoor track stars dominated the Boston Pizza RDC athlete of the week voting. Jordanna Cota took the top female award and Nathan Goode the male award.
Cota, a fourth-year nursing student from Red Deer, placed second in the 3,000-metres and fourth in the 1,500m at the ACAC indoor championships while helping the 4x400m relay team to a silver and the Queens team to a silver.
Goode, a Lacombe native who is in his first year in Bachelor of Science — Agriculture, placed fifth in the 300 and 600m events in personnel best times of 40.33 seconds and 1:31.71. He also helped the 4x400m relay team to a fourth place finish and the RDC Kings to a fourth in the team standings.
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at email@example.com.