MOOSE JAW, Sask. — The RDC Kings believe in themselves, so when a bit of adversity went their way, they weren’t about to panic.
Despite dropping the first set 22-25 after a controversial call went against them, the Kings simply went back to their game and pulled away to win the next three sets 25-21, 25-20, 25-12 over the Columbia Bible College Bearcats of Abbotsford, B.C., and advance to today’s Canadian Colleges Athletic Association men’s volleyball gold medal game.
“What we said at the end of that first set was that we know we’re good and we have the plays that made us good so lets get back to those plays and make them try to beat us at our best rather than us doing things we’re not used to,” said Kings outstanding middle blocker Chris Osborn, who was named the RDC player of the match.
“So we reset and played the game we were used to and it paid off.”
The controversy came late in the first set when RDC was called on a touch on a ball that went out of bounds. Instead of being tied 23-23 the Bearcats held a 24-22 lead.
Kings head coach Aaron Schulha was especially upset.
“I’m glad the guys didn’t react the way I did,” he said. “I was a bit worked up as it came at a key moment in the game. The momentum showed early in the second set as well as they went up 4-0, but we got a few energy points and regained control. We made some excellent digs. I remember one where (Chris) Jones dug the ball while on his butt at the net and got the ball back over and they made a hitting error. Those are momentum points that you need. After that our energy level was very high and consistent.”
The Kings were outstanding at the net, but even more impressive on defence, not giving anything away.
“We were coming on on offence and adrenalin took over on defence,” said Osborn, who believes they were the best team they faced this season, even better than Grant MacEwan, who were ranked second in Canada, just behind the Kings.
“This team has four or five guys we had to worry about, I certainly don’t believe they are a five seed.”
“We knew they’d be tough. We knew what we were getting ourselves into as they have some guys back from their national championship team of two years ago. They have their setter (Jason Warkentin) and (Will) Quiring, their high volume guy, plus several other nice pieces. But our guys settled down after that first set and we started turning more balls around and making life difficult for them. I’m a big believer in defence and digs and blocks can change a game. They’re huge momentum killers and that helped us a lot.”
Osborn was a dominant force at the net as he finished with 13 kills, two aces, four digs and while he was credited with only two stuff blocks he got his hands on a number of hits.
“What helped me was that even in that first set our presence on the outside took them away from me and we started going to me more and they never did adjust,” said Osborn.
As well right side Braden O’Toole had another outstanding match with 19 kills, an ace, one stuff block and nine digs. Tim Finnigan was watched closely all game, but he finished with 11 kills, an ace and 13 digs. Jones added eight kills and 13 digs while libero Parker Maris had nine digs and setter Sam Brisbane four kills, 14 digs, 49 assists and a block.
“Osborn was a monster in the middle,” said Schulha. “Braden did a bang up job again and Jones and Maris were stable on defence and serve receive.”
Bearcats head coach Phil Wiens simply felt they got beat by a better team.
“Once they started picking it up we played a little timid and stopped playing our game,” he said. “They’re a good team and we’re a good team. I felt whoever played the best today would win and they were better.”
The Kings will be a definite underdog in the final as they face the host Briercrest Bible College Clippers at 8 p.m. (CST). The Clippers advanced with a 25-22, 25-14, 25-12 win over the Mohawk Mountaineers of Hamilton.
Schulha knows they’ll have their hands full but he also believes his team has not played their best.
“I know we can play better,” he concluded.
On the bronze medal side, Humber Hawks of Toronto downed the St. Jerome Cheminots 25-20, 19-25, 25-22, 25-23 and the Douglas College Royals of New Westminster stopped the St. Thomas Tommies of Fredericton, N.B., 20-25, 25-21, 25-10, 25-20,