The Alumni is never an easy test for the RDC Kings volleyball squad, especially with it being their first match of the season.
Still, the Kings jumped into a 2-0 lead and went on to down the Alumni 25-20, 25-20, 20-25, 25-22 in the opening match of the ACAC South Challenge tournament at RDC Thursday.
“The first couple of games we were crisp, then they started to play a little better and we went away,” said Kings head coach Aaron Schulha. “We started to mix our lineup a bit, but the main difference was first contact.
“I thought we started out crisp in terms of our serving and passing and then it kind of went south. They started to serve tougher and we started to get cute at times and you can’t do that against a veteran team.”
The Kings didn’t make a lot of errors in the first two sets, outside of the few missed serves. On the other side, the Alumni looked a bit rusty, but once they found a rhythm they didn’t give much away, except for once again their serves.
“We were a bit rusty, but they have a good looking squad … Aaron did a good job recruiting,” said former Kings star Tim Finnigan, who is an assistant coach with this year’s RDC squad, along with Mitch Irvine, who was also with the Alumni.
“Mitch and I knew some of their tendencies from practice and coaching them, but they still stepped up,” he said.
“What I did notice was some of the second-year guys have shown a lot growth, which is exciting to see.”
Finnigan admitted he missed playing, but it was also fun to be with the Alumni.
“I’m friends with some of the older guys, but I look across the net and see a lot of guys I played with.
“I know it upsets me not winning,” he added with a laugh.
“It was a bit strange to look across the net and see Tim on the other side,” said Schulha. “He was our leader, so this is a bit of a new learning curve for this group. But it’s an exciting group with a lot of athleticism. We have a lot of weapons, now it’s a matter of finding how they can work together.”
Setter Luke Brisbane looked sharp and was named the Kings player of the match, finishing with 29 assists, five digs, two blocks and a kill. Regan Fathers added seven kills, five aces, a block and three digs while new middle Tommy Lyons had six kills, three aces and three blocks.
Irvine led the Alumni with 12 kills, two blocks, seven digs and two aces, while Darcee Froese had seven kills and three digs.
Chris Wowchuk had six kills, an ace and five digs and libero Pat McIntyre had 11 digs.
Action resumes at 11 a.m. today with SAIT facing Camrose Augustana, while Briercrest faces College of the Rockies at 1 p.m. and Medicine Hat meets Vancouver Island University of Nanaimo at 3 p.m.
SAIT and the Alumni clash at 6 p.m. and the Kings meet VIU at 8 p.m. in the main gym. Briercrest and Camrose clash at 6 p.m. and Medicine Hat takes on College of the Rockies at 8 p.m. in the Kevin Sirois Gym.
On Sunday in the Main Gym, the Alumni meets Briercrest at 10 a.m. and Medicine Hat at 6 p.m., with the Kings facing College of the Rockies at noon and Augustana at 8 p.m. As well, Briercrest takes on VIU at 4 p.m. In the KS Gym SAIT faces VIU at 10 a.m., Medicine Hat meets Augustana at noon and SAIT clashes with College of the Rockies at 6 p.m.
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at email@example.com. His work can also be seen at www.rdc.ab.ca/athleticsblog