The RDP Queens didn't lose a match all season on their way to an ACAC gold medal. They knocked off the Lakeland Rustlers to puch their ticket to the national championships later this month. (Photo by RDP Athletics)

Kings and Queens volleyball search for gold at Nationals

The Red Deer Polytechnic Queens have some unfinished business at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association national volleyball championships.

The last time the championship was played was in 2020 and the Queens earned a bronze medal.

They’re hopeful for an upgrade to gold this time around and carry a perfect 18-0 record into the championship. They were ranked second in the nation this season, behind only the Douglas Royals of B.C.

“Practice has been going really well. We are just fine-tuning what we do,” said Chris Wandler, RDP Queens Volleyball Interim Head Coach in a press release.

“It was tough to prepare specifically for our opponent before knowing exactly who we would be facing. We are relying on our learnings throughout the entire year.”

The Queens departed this week for Holland College in P.E.I. and will open the event at 10 a.m. Friday against the MSVU Mystics out of Halifax.

The Mystics swept the St. Thomas Tommies (25-20, 25-22 and 25-18) in the ACAA Women’s Volleyball Championship. In that match, MSVU second-year outside hitter Marcy MacNeil had a game-high 15 kills along with 14 digs.

“The Mystics are the Atlantic Champions. This week we are watching video of them and formulating a more specific game plan,” explained Wandler. “We are focusing on taking care of our game and playing Queens Volleyball, so they have to adjust to our style of play.”

For the Queens, the biggest strength is their depth. In the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference gold medal match, outside hitters Tess Pearman and Jaiden Ferguson recorded 13 kills each.

ACAC Women’s Volleyball South Player of the Year Anna Carlson was also very efficient on the right side, contributing 12 kills. Setter Emma Letkeman had 41 assists in that game and was also ACAC Rookie of the Year in 2020 when the Queens captured bronze at nationals.

The last time the Queens won gold at nationals was 2015, along with titles in 2014 and 1984.

Meanwhile, the RDP Kings are also searching for another national crown in Quebec.

The Kings missed out on the big dance in 2020 and were silver medalists on home court in 2019. They won back-to-back national titles in 2016 and 2017 and have 13 national gold medals.

It will be a tough test to open the CCAA National Championship, as the Kings will battle the host Limoilou Titans on Friday. The Titans have won 11 national titles.

“It is going to be fun atmosphere for sure. Limoilou is a mainstay at the national championships and will be a tough first-round opponent,” said Kings head coach Aaron Schulha.

“However, I think our team thrived off being the bad guys up in Edmonton for our ACAC Championship and it will be a similar environment on Friday. They are always well-coached, so we will have to execute at a high level.”

Schulha said his team has really found an extra gear in the ACAC playoffs.

They won their 20th ACAC gold medal with a four-set win over the host NAIT Ooks.

“It’s always a fine line to walk at this time of year between keeping the guys healthy and keeping them match ready,” Schulha said.

“Our practices last week were lower impact than we’re accustomed to, but we will ramp up the gameplay over the next couple of days and be well prepared for Friday.”

 

The RDP Queens finished off a perfect season in style, winning the ACAC provincial gold medal on home court Saturday at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre. (Photo by RDP Athletics)