Kodiaks 3 Kings 0
With the addition of two new players picked up during the Christmas break, the RDC Kings have put together a lineup they hope will defend their Canadian colleges men’s volleyball championship.
However, that lineup, which includes newcomers Regan Fathers and Nic Dubinsky, needs some fine tuning, which was obvious in a 23-25, 22-25, 22-25 loss to the visiting Lethbridge Kodiaks in ACAC action Friday.
While the Kodiaks were solid on their side of the net the Kings were anything but. They made error after error, many of which came when they looked as if they may get back in the match.
“We made a ton of mistakes,” said Kings head coach Aaron Schulha. “Blake (assistant coach Henwood) looked at the stats and we had more stats than they did but we also made a boat load of errors, way more than they did.
“However, we wanted to see what that lineup would look like and we also knew it would be a bit of work in progress. We shifted Tim (Finnigan) back to the left side and Regan was totally new to our system. At times he showed what he’s capable of and at times he put too much pressure on himself, trying to do more than he needed to. But that’s what quality players do.”
Dubinsky, who was a two-time all-star at Lethbridge, was also trying too hard against his former team and was just missing his kills.
Setter Luke Brisbane and middles Adam Turlejski and Justin Lukacs were the other three starters, all of whom started during the first half of the season when the Kings ran off an 11-1 record and sat first in the CCAA rankings.
Ironically, their only loss was against the Kodiaks.
“They have a physical team and were simply better on first contact than we were,” said Schulha. “But we’re also not used to losing in our gym and certainly not 3-0. That’s tough to swallow, but we have to try to look at what this group will look like at the end of the season.”
Dubinksy had 11 kills while Fathers, who joins Brisbane and Turlejski from Australia, added nine kills, four aces, five digs and two stuff blocks.
Queens 3 Kodiaks 0
The Queens started a bit slow, but by the midpoint of the first set were starting to show their form and rolled to a 25-19, 25-16, 25-16 victory over the Kodiaks.
Part of the slow start was a result of an injury to starting outside hitter Leah Koot (ankle). She was replaced by first-year Lauren Marshall, who didn’t look out of place.
“It’s hard to say why we had the slow start, possibly we were nervous with the injury and bit hesitant,” said Queens head coach Talbot Walton. “But we were also a bit ahead of ourselves in the rallies. We were thinking a couple of plays in advance and not taking care of the initial moment.
“We needed to make sure we had good digs and hits. When we’re rushing you see mistakes with the ball falling in and we’re lunging at the ball instead of taking care of it.”
The Queens, who have the same lineup as they did the first half of the season that saw them post an 11-1 record and sit first in Canada, weren’t about to panic with the score tied early.
“We knew what we needed to do. We needed to serve well to put them out of their system and then do things on our side like defend and challenge the ball and generate points,” said Walton.
The Queens also got several solid individual efforts, led by middle blocker Alex Donaghy and setter Bronwyn Hawkes.
Donaghy had 11 kills, an ace, four stuff blocks and five digs while Hawkes had 36 assists, an ace, a block and eight digs.
The teams meet again today with the women’s match at 1 p.m., followed by the men.
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter, who can be reached at email@example.com. His work can also be seen at www.rdc.ab.ca/athloeticsblog