Ben Holmes has played a lot of big volleyball matches in his college career.
The fourth-year outside hitter from Red Deer played in the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association final three of the past four seasons with the Kings.
With that perspective in mind, a five-set loss (23-25, 25-23, 25-27, 25-21, 10-15) to The King’s University Eagles in the second game of the Fall Invitational is an opportunity to learn and prepare for those bigger moments down the road.
“There were some positives and negatives. Back and forth. That tends to happen early when everybody is trying to figure out how to work together and play together. This tournament is always about building,” he said.
“We’re just trying to figure out where we’re at and what we need to work on, where the holes are that we need to fill. It sucks to lose, but I’m not super concerned about it.”
Holmes, the Kings captain is a centrepiece for the offence this year but of perhaps equal importance is the leadership role that he’ll have to play. With the loss of star hitter Regan Fathers and the veteran steadying presence of Adam Turlejski, it will be a different job that Holmes is ready to embrace this year.
“For me, it’s just about giving them the right tools and bring a little bit of leadership,” Holmes said.
“We have a lot of older guys. It’s a new group but we have a lot of older guys and experienced guys who’ve been around the sport. I think we’re going to be really well balanced and really deep this year.”
The Kings are returning six of 13 players from last season, all of which will likely see an increased role in the new campaign. There’s third-year setter Tom Wass, who needs to take a big step forward if the Kings want to make a run at the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference championship. Third-year Mark DeWit will also need to step up, along with second-year outside hitter JJ Graham.
Australian Patrik Toze, who didn’t play Friday is a dangerous piece on the outside. His Aussie counterpart Dillon Gauci, a six-foot-eight, first-year middle did play in the match Friday and showed flashes of his offensive prowess.
Much like most of the group, which interim head coach Keith Hansen did lots of tinkering with, Gauci and others were more inconsistent than the coach would have liked. Especially in big points during the loss.
“We all expected more of ourselves than what we gave in that game. Played well for three or four points, shoot ourselves in the foot, Played well for three or four points, shoot ourselves in the foot,” he said.
“It’s hard to create momentum that way. We’re trying some different stuff and working on some different stuff and we’ll keep pushing.”
RDC did win its opening game of the tournament in four sets (19-25, 25-17, 25-16, 25-18) over the University of Alberta-Augustana Vikings.
The Kings finish the weekend tournament with a pair of matches Saturday, taking on Providence University College Pilots at 11 a.m. and the SAIT Trojans at 8 p.m. at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.