RODE: Carlson name becoming familiar at RDP

The Carlson name is becoming very familiar in the volleyball circles at Red Deer Polytechnic.

Last season Anna Carlson joined the Queens after four years with the Mount Royal University Cougars and helped lead the Queens to the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference championship and a bronze medal at the Nationals.

This season her brother, Noah, jumped on board with the Kings following three years at UBC Okanagan in Kelowna.

Noah had an opportunity to follow Anna to MRU but fell in love with UBCO.

“I fell in love with the campus and Kelowna is a nice city to live in,” he explained. “As well I didn’t mesh as well with the Mount Royal coach.”

But after three seasons he felt it was time to return home.

“I came back because of schooling, financial reasons and just being closer to home,” he explained.

It had nothing to do with the fact Anna spent last season at RDP.

“Not at all it. We went our separate ways and ended up in the same place. It’s a great program here and it worked well for her.”

The six-foot-six native of Sylvan Lake is one of four U Sports players to transfer to the Kings this season. Colby Nemeth and Brodie Kopec were eligible for the first semester with Carlson and Spencer Purdie coming in at Christmas after getting their transfer papers in line.

Noah gives the Kings head coach Aaron Schulha most pleasant problem.

He played on the right side in university, a position held by Brett Lower, one of the top outside hitters in the ACAC.

“It’s nice to have that competition, pushing each other … it makes us that much better,” said the 21-year-old.

Schulha has also started Carlson in the middle.

“I played middle in high school,” said Noah. “Other than that I played mainly right side, but it’s a nice change of pace and I find by playing the middle it helps me when I’m on the right side and visa versa.

“Our main philosophy is to have the best six on the court and I don’t mind sacrificing a spot on the right side just to get out there.”

Wherever Noah lines up he makes things difficult on the opposition.

“It’s nice to have a six-foot-six on the outside or the middle,” said Schulha. “He provides us with a lot of physicality. He’s one of the most physical guys in the league. He’s six-six and touches 11-foot-eight, is very physical at the net both offensively and defensively.

“He’s a U Sport calibre athlete and an imposing figure no matter where we line him up. It’s nice to be able to run different lineups and our best lineup has him on the court in some capacity. Now it’s up to us to figure out what the best lineup is and we are running out of time.

“We want to be comfortable heading into the league championships and beyond, if we get there.”

The Kings have four games remaining on their schedule — a home-and-home against Olds this weekend, beginning Friday in Olds — and home games Feb. 10 against NAIT and Feb. 11 against NWP (Grande Prairie).

No matter where Noah lines up he’ll find himself in a number of different positions. Even in the middle he could end up hitting on the right side with setter Maddux Greves in the middle blocking.

“It depends on the matchups,” said Carlson. “If Maddux can block their middle he’ll switch over or they may need me to go up against a certain hitter. We have a lot of talent and versatility.”

Noah was at UBCO three years with the middle year lost to Covid. He saw limited action his first season before slipping in as a starter on the right side his third season. He finished with 2.61 kills per set. So far this season he has 3.30 kills per set, first on the Kings just ahead of Lower’s 3.28 mark. He also has a spectacular .682 kill percentage.

You can see his versatility as in two matches he started on the right side he had 20 kills against TKU and 16 against Ambrose. Starting in the middle he had 10 kills in 12 attempts against Ambrose and four blocks.

“It shows he’s very capable in either position,” said Schulha. “It’s a great problem to have rather than one where you’re scratching to put together a lineup.”

Noah is taking Open Studies and expects to work on his Bachelor of Education the next two seasons.

“We had a little chat earlier this year and it was a pleasant surprise for him to say he likes it here and has committed to next year for sure,” said Schulha. “And usually when the guys stay for the fourth they stay for the fifth.”

Lower will also be around for two more years so there will be that competition.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it,” said Schulha. “Whether it means switching one of the guys to the left side that’s something we’ll look at over the summer.”

As of now Schulha and Co. are looking at the Broncos.

“Olds will provide good competition,” said Carlson. “We have some good competition in the next couple of weeks, which is exciting as you’re always looking to play the best people, it’s the only way to get better.”

Overall Noah finds the college competition different than U Sport.

“A few teams aren’t the same competition as in U Sport you don’t find any team lacking in certain areas,” he said. “But overall it’s been great.”

The Kings are ranked No. 2 in Canada and expected to challenge for a national title. But that wasn’t something Noah looked at coming in.

“Never crossed my mind,” he said. ‘I don’t look that far ahead just one game at a time and go from there.”

Schulha likes the Kings final four matches.

“Olds is one of the hottest teams in the league. They have a veteran core and are well-coached. They play good defence and serve tough.

“NAIT is tops in the North and are one of the teams we need to beat and NWP is battling for a playoff spot so won’t be a pushover. No easy matches … that’s what we want at this time of the year.”

Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter and member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame who can be reached at

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