The RDC volleyball Kings have ran into a string of injuries that would leave most teams in dire straights.
But thanks to their depth head coach Aaron Schulha expects to field a competitive team until everyone is healthy.
The Kings have been without outside hitter Darcee Froese since the middle of November while both starting middle blockers — Sean Tuff and Boston Maris — may be missing when RDC hosts Medicine Hat Friday and Saturday.
Tuff has a knee injury, which left him on the sidelines during the Mount Royal University tournament last week, while Maris rolled his ankle during practice Friday.
“That’s both our veteran middles, but if they’re out the younger guys have to step up and the other guys have to rally around them,” said Schulha, who may have both Tuff and Maris back.
“Sean will test his knee on Wednesday,” said Schulha late Tuesday, “and we’re not sure about Boston yet.”
Rookie middle Trent Schmidt from Notre Dame stepped in for Tuff at the MRU tourney and played well as the Kings were undefeated, beating Briercrest Bible College in the final.
Schmidt will start if either Tuff or Maris is out and if both are missing, rookie Jordan Gardiner or veteran outside hitter Andy Inglis will see duty in the middle.
Froese is getting closer to returning, but will be out this week.
“The pain is less, but he needs to strengthen his shoulder,” explained Schulha.
Still the Kings are solid in a number of areas, especially on the right side and setter.
Taylor Hunt has moved to the right side from power and has been almost unstoppable while first-year setter Nick Bell continues to shine. David King, Quentin Schmidt and Tucker Leinweber have been solid on the left side.
Meanwhile, the volleyball Queens are healthy as they return from a trip to Hawaii where they played against and trained with Grande Prairie, Capilano University of North Vancouver and Vancouver Island University of Nanaimo.
“All three a very good college teams and we played well against them,” said Queens head coach Talbot Walton. “We didn’t win a match, but we were close and we’re still working on a number of things.”
What Walton did do was settle on a lineup and a system he believes will put the Queens in contention to retain their ACAC crown.
“We’re happy with the changes and while there’s still some work to do until everyone feels comfortable, there were a lot of positive signs.”
One of the moves was to switch power hitter Jaclyn Neufeld to the right side and use Brooke Sutter and Mackenzie Quinn on the left side along with Robyn Denney.
The women get action underway against Medicine Hat Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m. with the men to follow.
Both RDC basketball squads went through changes during the break.
The Kings lost Stason Golden of Windsor, Ont., but added six-foot-eight Eddy Sanchez of Toronto and six-foot-four guard R.J. Wells, who played at the University of Windsor last season.
The Queens, on the other hand, lost team and league scoring leader Lisa Ivanics and added Stephanie Tremblay, who has played with the Queens soccer team the last several years, after playing a year with the NAIT Ooks basketball team.
“It will take a little time for Stephanie to get up to par, but she’ll help,” said Queens coach Dawn Smyth, who was disappointed to see Ivanics go.
“She’s a big loss, but a major part of being a student-athlete is being a student,” said Smyth, who is still missing impressive first-year guard Karlen Majcher with a broken bone in her leg.
The Queens travelled to Phoenix during the break.
“We practised twice a day and imported a few changes,” Smyth said.
“It was good for team bonding and we reset some goals and restructured our systems.”
The Kings won the Camrose Augustana tournament during the break, beating The Kings University College, Augustana and St. Mary’s College of Calgary.
“It wasn’t a big-time tournament, but it gave us a chance to get back into game shape and for Eddy a chance to fit in and get up to speed,” said Kings coach Stef Labrecque. “R.J. has been with us in the first half and knows the systems.”
Sanchez played with the Kings last year before sitting out the first half this year.
“His maturity level is good and he added some muscle, which will definitely help inside,” said Labrecque, who also added Eric Dortman of Ponoka to the roster, although he’ll likely red shirt.
The RDC squads return to action Friday at NAIT and travel to Grande Prairie Saturday.
l The hockey Queens face Grant MacEwan in a home-and-home series — Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Arena and Friday in Edmonton.
l The badminton and curling teams are in action. The badminton team competes in an individual competition at Mount Royal Saturday and Sunday while the curling teams will compete in the Sylvan Lake Open.
l Hockey Queens first-year centre Jessica Abt was named the Boston Pizza RDC female athlete of the week.