NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. – Over the years the RDC Kings have faced the Atlantic champion in the opening round of the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association men’s volleyball championship more than any other team.
In most cases the Kings are ranked No. 1 with the Atlantic champion coming in eighth. Such is the case this season with the Kings facing the St. Thomas Tommies of Fredericton, N.B. in their opening match today at 1 p.m. (PST) at Douglas College.
There were times over the years when it was a matter of just showing up to come away with a victory. Kings head coach Aaron Schulha doesn’t see it that way.
“They’re small physically, where we should have any advantage,” he said. “But they’re scrappy and the last couple of years they’ve played well. Two years ago they took Mohawk to five sets in the quarter-finals and last year they defeated Niagara.
They have some guys returning from last year, although they did lose a couple of their top players. I see them similar to Briercrest or Olds where they’re small but we have to play well. In the grand scheme of things we match up well.”
Schulha knows it will be up to the Kings, and how they play, how far they go.
“We know what’s here and what the country has to offer and who should be at the top,” he said. “But it doesn’t matter to us who we play it’s up to us to play our best. In all likelihood we won’t be at our best in all three matches, but it’s a matter of closing the gap between when we’re good and when we’re not quite there.
“It’s a matter of making sure our lulls are not significant and making sure we focus on what we’re doing.”
The Kings practiced Tuesday at Simon Fraser University and spent an hour on the floor at Douglas Wednesday.
“We were loose Tuesday, the way the guys have been all season,” he said. “Today we were a bit tight early, so we had a team discussion and got them back loose. That’s the way we play our best and we got better as the practice went on.”
The Kings will be at full strength with left side Matt Lofgren back from a high ankle sprain that kept him out of the ACAC championships.
“Matt will be able to contribute more, so we have more depth and more options,” said Schulha. “It’s nice to have a full oat where we can mix up the lineup if need be.”
The fact the Kings play the early game today changes their preparation a bit, but it also has a positive side.
“It’s a slightly different feel in that we have a pregame breakfast and then nothing until after the game,” said Schulha. “It’s a different way to look at it, but on the other side we get a break after and can scout. The other teams have to battle after we’re finished.”
The winner of the RDC-St. Thomas match faces the winner between the Camosun Chargers of Victoria and the Mohawk Mountaineers of Hamilton at 6 p.m. Friday. On the other side, the second-ranked Fanshaw Falcons of London, Ont., clash with the Keyano Huskies at 6 p.m. today while the Limoilou Titans of Quebec City meet the host Douglas Royals at 8 p.m.
The final goes Saturday at 6 p.m.