It wasn’t the easiest of decisions, but Alex Donaghy’s commitment to play volleyball at RDC couldn’t have worked out better.
The Sylvan Lake star, who was heavily recruited in both volleyball and basketball, shares middle blocking duties with Shelby Bramall and Megan Schmidt and has played a key role in the Queens’ 12-0 record.
“It’s worked out for me . . . I’ve really enjoyed it,” said Donaghy, who decided before the end of last year’s high school basketball season to join the volleyball Queens.
“Alex has been a great addition with a lot of potential,” said Walton. “She was a good basketball player, but we’re thankful she decided on volleyball. I’m a little bias, but I feel her upside is larger in volleyball.”
Donaghy is surprised at how much she’s started this season.
“I didn’t know what to expect . . . I didn’t think I’d start as much as I have, but I’m really enjoying it.”
Walton has the luxury of starting any two of his three middles, something that makes the team that much stronger.
“Any one of the three can play lights out and they have to stay in there as there’s always someone waiting to come in and show that they’re better,” said Walton.
“Alex is a very good athlete . . . she needs to refine it a bit and control certain situations, but she does a lot of things that are positive for us. We have to find ways to work her into the offence because she is such an athlete.”
Donaghy averages 1.8 kills per set, the best among the three middle blockers, while also contributing 0.5 blocks per set, which is tied with Schmidt and just behind Bramall.
What she doesn’t do is play the back row, so only has 0.7 digs per set.
“I’ve always played the middle, but played the back row in high school and in club with the U17 team,” she explained. “I didn’t play back row with the U18 team and of course not here. I do miss it a little.”
But she did laugh when asked if she’d “bug” Walton about playing in the back row.
“Maybe, but it hasn’t come up.”
But in the end Donaghy wasn’t worried about where she played as long as the team continues to have success.
“That’s important,” she said. “We have a team that works well together and has come together as a team.”
The Queens, who are ranked fourth in Canada, take their undefeated record into a home-and-home series against the University of Alberta, Augustana this week, playing Thursday in Camrose and Saturday at RDC. The women get action underway at 6 p.m. with the men to follow.
The second half of the season will be tougher than the first half as the Queens also face Briercrest Bible College, 9-3, on the road, SAIT, 6-6, and Grant MacEwan University, 9-3.
“We’re looking forward to the second half, because we’re playing tough teams which will make us better,” said Donaghy.
The Kings, who are 10-0 and ranked No. 1 in Canada, will have their hands full as well. Augustana is 6-4 while Briercrest, who will host the national finals, is 5-5, SAIT 7-3 and GMU 11-1.
“Augustana is a stronger team than any of the teams we’ve faced so far,” said Kings head coach Aaron Schulha in a press release. “They have the best middle tandem that we’ve seen.”
l The basketball squads will also have a tough test as they host Concordia University College on Friday (women tip off at 6 p.m. with the men to follow) and visit GMU on Saturday.
The Kings are ranked sixth in Canada and have an 11-1 record while CUC is 7-4 and GMU 9-3. The Queens are 5-7 with CUC at 4-7 and GMU 11-1.
l The hockey Queens need to find some offence as they face GMU in a home-and-home series — Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Arena and Saturday in Edmonton.
GMU is first in the league with an 8-3-0-1 record while RDC is third at 5-7-0-0. The Queens are only two points up on SAIT in the battle for the final playoff spot.
The games will see a battle between two of the premier netminders in the league with Morgan Glover of GMU first at 1.25 goals-against-average and a .956 save percentage and Camille Trautman of RDC, second at 1.38 and .943. Moriah Andrews of RDC is fourth in the league at 2.08 and .919.
• The hockey Kings clash with the GMU Griffins as well — Friday in Edmonton and Saturday at 7:15 p.m. at the Penhold Regional Multiplex.
The Kings are tied for second in the league with Augustana with 28 points, two back of SAIT and one ahead of NAIT.
The Griffins are fifth with 19 points.
• DJay McGrath of the hockey Kings and libero Maddi Quinn of the volleyball Queens shared the Boston Pizza RDC athlete of the week awards.
McGrath had a goal and two assists and was a leader on the Kings penalty kill and power play as they split a two-game series against NAIT.
Quinn was brilliant defensively in a weekend sweep of NAIT, finishing with 32 digs in only six sets.
Volleyball Kings middle Chris Osborn and basketball Queens post player Desirae Paterson also received recognition.
l The hockey Kings received the Breathing Room team of the week honours.