The score may not have indicated it, but the NAIT Ooks gave the RDC Kings a battle in their Alberta Colleges Men’s Volleyball League match at RDC Saturday.
The Kings, the No. 1 ranked team in the country, ran their record to 10-0 and have yet to lose a set this season, as they downed the Ooks 25-13, 25-21, 25-19.
Still head coach Aaron Schulha liked the fact the Ooks didn’t just hand the match to the Kings.
“Not at all. I knew they’d battle us as they’re starting to healthy and added a couple of players at Christmas,” he said. “They’re bigger in the middle, which put some pressure on our guys. Overall they forced us to be better than we were in the first half of the season, which is what we want. I know the second half will be tougher and our main focus is to get better every time out.”
The RDC middles of Chris Osborn and Justin Lukacs dominated play. Osborn was the RDC player of the match with 10 kills, three stuff blocks, an ace and one dig. Lukacs, a first-year player out of Calgary, had four kills and two digs.
“Justin is a little undersized for a middle (at six-foot-four), but he did a good job during the break against some bigger American middles and so it’s no issue having him in there,” said Schulha. “And the guys are comfortable with him in there. He brings a different dynamic to our offence as he’s very athletic. He’s a nice addition.”
Left side Chris Jones and setter Sam Brisbane also turned in outstanding performances.
Jones had 10 kills and five digs while Brisbane had three aces, a block, two kills and four digs.
“Sam was outstanding and he’s not 100 per cent healthy yet, so when his ankle heals completely he’ll take his play to a whole another level,” said Schulha. “As well Chris (Jones) has worked on getting to the attack at the right time. We’re getting the ball to him quicker and he’s getting to everything, which is nice to see.”
Tim Finnigan added four kills, three aces, three stuff blocks and four digs while Bryce Cardinal led NAIT with eight kills.
Queens 3 Ooks 0
Except for a brief spell to start the second set the Queens were in control as they downed the Ooks 25-12, 25-17, 25-15 to run their record to 12-0.
“We’re introducing some new ideas to the group, nothing drastic just new phrases and direction we want to head in terms of rallies, and improving on them, and maintaining the quality of that first contact,” said Queens head coach Talbot Walton. “And that second set was a good example for us when we not doing things right. We didn’t make great passes, which didn’t allow our setter to make good sets and our hitters weren’t making good choices. When we’re not doing those things we can’t create momentum, but as we went along in the set we started to fix that and we settled down.”
The Queens defence, led by veteran left side Brooke Sutter, also started to dominate the second set. Sutter made three unbelievable digs with the score close, which allowed the Queens to get the offence rolling.
“Good defence is a combination of our blockers being in the right spot and our diggers to be in good position,” said Walton. “A couple of those digs by Brooke were crazy digs. That one with one arm was freaky, even she said during a time out she didn’t know how she got that. Just instinct.”
Sutter and libero Maddi Quinn finished with 14 digs each while Sutter also added five kills and a stuff block and was named player of the match. Miranda Dawe came in late in the first set and had eight kills and seven digs while Karissa Kuhr had eight kills and five digs. Setter Bronwyn Hawkes also turned in a solid performance and picked up five digs, a block and one kill. Alex Donaghy added four kills and Shelby Bramall had two kills, six digs and five blocks.
Kelsey Ewashkiw came off the bench and played a major role in the second and third sets with her serving. She only got one ace, but consistently put the Ooks in trouble.
“Kelsey has been improving and we like how fast she is on defence,” said Walton. “As well she was a bit tentative with her first couple of serves, but got into the groove and was very good the second and third sets.”
Kelsey Tymkow led the Ooks with 12 kills and Savanna Willis had 14 digs. RDC meets the University of Alberta, Augustana in a twin bill — Thursday in Camrose and Saturday at RDC.
l It was tough weekend for the Olds Broncos in both volleyball and basketball. The Broncos men and women lost twice each to The Kings University College Eagles and the basketball squads lost to Grant MacEwan. The Olds volleyball girls lost both matches 3-2 to the Eagles while the men lost 3-0 twice.
The Grant MacEwan men won 85-71 and the women 80-52.