EDMONTON – The RDC Kings are back on top of men’s volleyball in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference.
The Kings, who went into the championships at NAIT ranked No. 1 in Canada, defeated the Keyano College Huskies 25-19, 25-23, 17-25, 25-12 to win gold Saturday.
Both teams will compete at the national championships at Douglas College in New Westminster, B.C.
“Outside of that third set we played well,” said Kings head coach Aaron Schulha. “In fact that third set wasn’t as close as it may look. We played bad volleyball.”
But the letdown didn’t last. In fact the Kings came out for the fourth set with fire in their eyes.
“That was as well as we’ve played all season,” said Schulha. “It was nice to see that response. I thought the guys may be a bit tight, but they certainly weren’t. We were firing on all cylinders.”
Veteran right side, and tournament all-star Nic Dubinsky agreed.
“We stepped off the gas a bit in that third set … we got lost in the atmosphere, but it was a reality check. We got clued in that they’re a good opponent and we stepped on the gas again in that fourth set.
“That set was a clinic, every person on the floor and those who came off the bench played flawlessly.”
Schulha also deserved a lot of credit for the team’s preparation for the final. Despite playing late on Friday he spent a good portion of the night cutting tape on the Huskies.
“It was short night, but worth it, that’s part of coaching and I enjoy it,” he said. “We want the guys to be familiar, as much as they can, with the opposition.”
The loss in the third set was the only setback for the Kings in their three playoff matches. They defeated the NAIT Ooks and the Augustana Vikings 3-0.
“We were a little scrambly against NAIT, but we played well against Augustana as the guys had something to prove as they beat us in last year’s final.”
“Losing to Augustana last year stung deep and provided a lot of motivation for that semifinal match,” added Dubinsky. “Everyone came out firing.”
The only trouble the Kings had in that match was in the second game when they got down by two and trailed 23-22 late.
“But Riley (Friesen) got an ace to tie it and then there was a big block and that set us off,” explained Dubinsky.
Overall Schulha was happy with the weekend.
“For the most part we were clean,” he said. “It’s a good way to head into the nationals. A good confidence builder.”
Dubinsky was also glad the Huskies battled hard in the final.
“It’s good to be pushed. I’d feel less comfortable if we would have ran through the championship. It’s nice to face some adversity. It means more heading into the nationals.”
The Kings should be ranked No. 1 at the CCAA finals. It will provide a slightly better draw, but Dubinsky knows it won’t get any easier. But the Kings have also played with a bullseye on their backs all season.
“As Aaron says from the beginning of the year that when you have a record like we do every team is out to play their best against you. We expect that and we expected to win. We’re used to tough matches, but we also know we’re now against new opponents and stronger opponents.”
“It was a key for us to go into the nationals with the best record we could,” said Schulha.
“But we’ll have the target on our backs no matter what.
“Still we have several guys who have been through this before and we have a mature group, who are hungry.”
Friesen had 15 kills, Dubinsky nine kills and three blocks and Tom Lyon and Ty Moorman eight kills each. Luke Brisbane, who was named the tournament’s MVP, had 33 assists.
Lyon was also elected to the all-star team.