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Last season the Medicine Hat Rattlers had the RDC Kings number.

RDC Queens

RDC Queens

Kings 3 Rattlers 0

But this year the Kings feel they’re a better team.

And if Friday’s results were any indication they are improved as they downed the Rattlers 25-22, 25-17, 25-13 in Alberta Colleges Men’s Volleyball League play before a near capacity crowd at RDC.

“This is the deepest team we’ve had in my three years here,” said Kings head coach Aaron Schulha. “It shows in practice. It’s tough to decide which 12 players I can dress for each game and what seven to start.”

Second-year outside hitter Trevor Gillis is one of the players to give the Kings that depth.

Gillis was called upon Friday to make his first start in the ACAC with fourth-year power hitter Chris Wowchuk at his brother’s wedding.

“Trevor did a lot of work during the summer and came in a lot stronger and he’s impressed,” said Schulha.

“This was nice, getting a chance to start, and to start at home,” said Gillis, who finished with four kills, two aces, a block and three digs.

“It was a good effort tonight by everyone,” he added. “I think we were a bit nervous early on, with this being our first home game of the season, but we settled down and did a good job. We certainly wanted to win as they beat us last year, but I think we’re more of a team this year. We don’t have anyone who plays as an individual. Everyone is digging and playing for that next point.”

Schulha agreed.

“Everyone played well,” he said. “And we needed to. They have a good team, a lot like last year and we knew they’d push us.”

Kings veteran setter Evan Whitecotton did an excellent job of spreading the ball around with all the starters getting on the scoresheet.

Mitch Irvine led the way with 11 kills and four digs while Taylor Hunt had eight kills, three aces and two blocks. Whitecotton also had six digs and libero Matt Saunders seven digs.

Anton Friesen led the Rattlers with 11 kills and five digs.

Queens 3 Rattlers 0

The Queens also showed a little nerves early and fell behind 7-2 in the first game before coming back to win 25-17, 25-22, 25-12.

“The girls are always excited about opening at home and this year with the recognition we received prior to the game celebrating last year’s championship it made it even tougher,” said Queens head coach Talbot Walton. “Everyone wanted to play so well we weren’t playing as a team.”

The Queens did settle down and won the opener, then quickly fell behind in the second game. In fact they trailed 19-15 before once again rallying.

“The second game worried me more than the first,” said Walton. “But the girls showed a lot of patience and didn’t let the fact they trailed bother them. It showed their experience.”

The Queens have only one rookie — middle Danielle Newton — in their starting six. Plus libero Sarah Truant was with the team last season, but missed most of the year with a knee injury.

Veteran setter Quinn Schulzke anchored the RDC attack and was the RDC player of the match. She finished with 10 digs, four aces and two blocks.

“Quinn did a good job of recognizing where to attack and moved the ball around accordingly,” said Walton.

Katie Graves led the Queens with 12 kills and 12 digs while Jessica Clutton had eight kills, three aces and 10 digs, Jill Folkard seven kills and eight digs, Mandy Carroll six kills and three blocks and Newton four kills and two blocks.

Megan Nagy had 10 kills and nine digs for the Rattlers.

The teams meet again today at RDC with the women getting action underway at 1 p.m. with the men to follow.

drode@bprda.wpengine.com

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