The RDC Kings could have been better, but overall they got what they wanted from the opposition during Saturday’s play in the annual Ramada Inn and Suites Challenge Cup men’s volleyball tournament at RDC.
The Kings split their preliminary matches — losing 23-25, 25-18, 22-25, 20-25 to the RDC Alumni A and beating Grande Prairie Wolves 32-30, 25-16, 21-25, 28-26 — to finish second in the A Pool with a 2-1 record.
They downed Concordia University College Thunder of Edmonton 25-18, 25-13, 25-17 in the quarter-final
“We put the alumni team in our pool on purpose as we knew if they played well we’d likely finish second,” said Kings head coach Aaron Schulha.
“But we also knew that Grande Prairie wouldn’t be a pushover and we had to play well to beat them, in fact better than we did against the Alumni. But that was what we wanted. We wanted to be challenged.
“Then we were able to finish off, by giving some of our guys who played more a break and the young guys came in and played well, which was good to see.”
Schulha needed his starters to squeeze past the Wolves, but was able to empty the bench against the Thunder.
What Schulha also wanted to see was a steady improvement in play over the weekend, with the players showing team cohesion.
“We didn’t start that well Friday (a 3-0 win over Ambrose College of Calgary) and weren’t at our best against the Alumni, but we improved steadily throughout the day and started doing some of the things consistently that we’ve been working on in practice,” said Schulha.
The Kings face the RDC Alumni B in the 10 a.m. semifinal while the Alumni A takes on Grande Prairie.
The Alumni B downed Ambrose 25-21, 25-18, 25-18 while the Alumni A beat Olds College Broncos 25-15, 25-14, 25-14 and the Wolves edged Camrose Augustana Vikings 25-18, 17-25, 26-24, 22-25, 15-13.
Olds meets Augustana and Concordia takes on Ambrose in the B side semifinals at noon. Both finals are set for 2 p.m.
“We were hoping to meet the Alumni B team in the semifinals and if things go right we could meet the other alumni team in the final,” said Schulha. “We’re looking forward to it, if it works that way.”
The only disappointment in the tournament was the fact there were only eight teams entered.
“When Keith (Hansen) started this tournament it was the only one in the province,” said Schulha. “Now there’s three, plus the University of Regina is hosting a tournament this weekend and there are college teams there. It’s disappointing as we’d like to see 12 to 16 teams. We may have to look at another weekend, which would be unfortunate because the alumni likes to be able to come back on the long weekend.
“We certainly don’t want to lose this tournament, so we’ll sit down and have a look at it to see the best way to draw a few more teams.”