RDC Kings libero Chris Petersen passes a ball earlier this week at practice. The Kings start the regular season on Oct. 13 at home. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate staff)

Defending national champs have eye on three-peat

There is a message from alumni that seems to always stick with players on the RDC Kings volleyball team.

They say that Thursday should be the toughest night of the week, when teammates square off against one another in practice.

In most cases such a myth is exactly that, just an old tale designed to scare the new guys.

Only when you’re a two-time, back-to-back Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association championship team, that tale becomes more gospel than anything.

“Sometimes the best games you play are Thursday night practices. Just because it’s an absolute dog fight and that makes you so much better,” said Adam Turlejski, the six-foot-six, fourth-year middle.

Kings’ players are not shy about their goal heading into the 2017-2018 Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference season, either.

A three-peat has already become a way of life for the squad just a few weeks into training camp and the season a few weeks away. The Kings won 19 matches in conference play last year and only lost five.

That task might prove more difficult than ever this year, with two first year setters in Jacob Rapin and Thomas Wass. Mix in the graduation of Regan Fathers, a powerhouse outside hitter and setter Luke Brisbane, the challenge gets even greater.

What seems like an impossible hurdle, head coach Aaron Schulha only sees that as an advantage.

Between Turlejski, power Tristen Dexter, right side hitters Scott Irvine and Hamish Hazelden, the Kings could be more dynamic on offence and ideally replace Fathers 3.95 kills per set from last season by committee.

“We had quite a bit of turnover. A lot of our guys moved onto the next level which is good,” said Schulha.

“We have 10 new bodies so I think there’s going to be a lot of internal competition. We have two first year setters. They’re both going to get some time. Positionally there’s going to be a lot of battles but that will only make us stronger.”

What still exists on the court is a culture that has developed in the program from winning. New players now step into the fold for the reputation and from day one, veteran Kings players make it known what the goal is.

It’s not only that they expect to be a winning team by the end of the season, but because they have a target on their back from the opening set of the year, they simply want to win every set. Even from the first day of training camp, it’s clear what the goal is.

“I think RDC brings that energy, guys want to come here and they want to compete because we know we’re good and we have to keep that level we expect,” said Dexter.

“We’re looking for that third (title) – we’re itching for another one. That’s the drive we have and we can see it even two weeks in.”

The Kings will open the season against Briercrest College on Oct. 13 at home.

byron.hackett@reddeeradvocate.com

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