Kings open with ugly win at national championships

Going into the Canadian Colleges Athletics Association men’s volleyball championships ranked No. 1 in the country it was expected the RDC Kings would have a cake-walk against the eighth-ranked St. Thomas Tommies. And while the final score of 25-19, 25-20, 25-16 didn’t show anything different the Kings were far from their best.

NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. – Going into the Canadian Colleges Athletics Association men’s volleyball championships ranked No. 1 in the country it was expected the RDC Kings would have a cake-walk against the eighth-ranked St. Thomas Tommies.

And while the final score of 25-19, 25-20, 25-16 didn’t show anything different the Kings were far from their best.

It was an ugly win,” said Kings head coach Aaron Schulha. “The first two sets were ugly and then they helped us out with some unforced errors in the third set.”

Still the Tommies were a better team than the one the Kings have faced in previous years.

“They’re a different team than we’re used to playing but not as physical as the teams we’ll face from now on,” said Schulha. “They’re smaller but have some leapers … it’s how they’ve been over the last three years.

“On the one hand it was nice that they pushed us a bit while on the other hand we weren’t overly crisp. But it was also nice to get that one out of the way and get over some jitters.”

Kings star setter, Luke Brisbane, who was the RDC player of the match, was at last year’s Canadians, but said there was some nerves.

There always is once you get to the elimination games, such as the provincials and the nationals,” he said. “Plus with the game at one o’clock that threw us off a bit. Still the guys warmed up and I thought we were better toward the end.”

Schulha also felt the team improved as they went along.

“We weren’t crisp early, in fact against most of the teams here we would have split, or even worse, in the first two sets,” he said. “But as we went along it was better and towards the end we were crisper.”

The Kings will face defending champion Camosun Chargers of Victoria in today’s 7 p.m. (MST) semifinal.

“They’re definitely more physical and we will need to tighten up,” he said.

One area they need to tighten up is blocking, which was a strength of the team down the stretch in the regular season and in the playoffs.

“Our timing and press was off which was because we were up against a smaller attacker,” he said. “Our blocking should better against bigger players, but there’s a lot of room for improvement, which is a good thing and hopefully we move in the right direction tomorrow.”

The Kings were able to use their middle effectively against the smaller Tommies.

“Their tallest player was about six-foot-three and our smallest was six-foot-two,” said Brisbane. “We had that size advantage and it was important to take advantage of it. As well we have some of the best middles in the nation and it’s important to use them. We will continue to do so throughout the weekend.”

Schulha agreed.

“Our middles were important. I though we passed good enough so that we could use them, especially early on which helped in those first two sets.”

Brisbane finished with 26 assists, nine digs and two blocks while middle Ty Moorman had six kills and four blocks and middle Tommy Lyon six kills and a block. Riley Friesen had 10 kills and five aces while Nic Dubinsky had eight kills, five digs and two blocks,. Libero Michael Sumner finished with nine digs.

Matt Lofgren started for the first time since a high ankle sprain and while he’s not 100 per cent he had two kills and there digs before Kashtin De Souza came on in the second set to play in front of his hometown family and friends.’

De Souza was sharp and while he had only one kills he had four digs and a block.

Camosun, who has long time RDC coach Gord Inglis and his son Andy, on the coaching staff, downed Mohawk Mountaineers of Hamilton 25-13, 25-18, 25-20.