Kings 3 Chargers 2
NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. – The RDC Kings have won a lot of tough matches over the years at the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association men’s volleyball championships, but there were few to match the calibre of Friday’s meeting with the Camosun Chargers.
The Kings needed every bit of their experience, talent and character to pull out a 25-18, 19-25, 19-25, 26-24, 15-11 victory over the Victoria, B.C., squad in the championship semifinals.
“That was a high pressure match, possibly the highest calibre match I’ve seen at the national finals in quite a few years,” said Kings head coach Aaron Schulha. “But that’s the way it’s supposed to be. In the grand scheme of things these were high level teams.
“The teams in the other semifinal are no push-overs, but prior to our game Gord (long time RDC coach and instructor Inglis) said to me he thought these were the two teams that should have been in the final,
“He was right it was a high calibre match and I’m glad we came out on the right end.”
For a period of time it looked like the Kings would have to be up early on Saturday to play in the bronze medal semifinal. The Kings made a number of mistakes in the second and third sets, but started to regain some of the momentum in the fourth.
However, despite leading 21-18 the Kings were down 24-23 with the defending champion Chargers serving for the match. The Kings then showed their character and refused to give away the deciding point.
“Coming back the way we did showed a whole tonne of character,” said Schulha. “Our blocking finally went our way and our service pressure was good.
“In the second and third sets they out-worked us on defence. They’re a very good defensive team but we were trying to be too fine on our attack as well. Once we had a discussion on that we started to execute.”
In the final set the Kings led 6-3 and 8-6 at the turn. Middle blocked Ty Moorman was outstanding in that fifth set with three stuff blocks and two kills.
“Ty took over while Tommy (middle Lyons) was steady and Riley (Friesen) stepped up when we needed it,” said Schulha, who also got a solid effort out of left side Kashtin De Souza and right side Nic Dubinsky, who was rightly so the player of the match.
“Kashtin was consistent and was playing in front of his family and friends and was very solid under pressure,” said Schulha. “But we had a talk with the guys about trusting each other and not trying to do someone else’s job and it worked out in the end.”
Dubinsky finished with 24 kills, 10 digs and five blocks, but he was quick to point out it was a team effort.
“We expected it to be a battle, they’re an excellent team, but after that third set we knew we were not where we should be,” he said. “We strived to keep an even level. We made a couple of small changes, but winning that fourth set was a confidence builder and we started having some fun again.”
Dubinsky knew what it was like to lose to the Chargers, who beat RDC in the fifth set in last year’s nationals.
“Some of us went through it last year and it stung,” he said. “We didn’t want that feeling again. We knew, even when we were down, to keep calm and keep pushing.”
Friesen finished with 17 kills, an ace and five digs while setter Luke Brisbane had 54 assists, 10 digs, two blocks and three kills. Lyon had nine kills, four blocks and three digs while Moorman had seven kills, five digs and six blocks. De Souza had six kills, 11 digs and an ace.
The Kings face the Limoilou Titans in the final today at 8 p.m. (mst). Limoilou downed the Fanshaw Falcons of London, Ont., 25-16, 25-20, 25-20.
The Chargers face the host Douglas College in the bronze semifinal. The other semifinal sees Mohawk of Hamilton clashing with Fanshaw.
Douglas downed Keyano 3-2 while Mohawk stopped St. Thomas 3-0.
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His work can also be seen at www.rdc.ab.ca/athleticsblog.