FORT McMURRAY — The RDC Kings are finally back in familiar territory.
For the first time in six years the Kings are on top of the Alberta Colleges Men’s Volleyball League after beating the SAIT Trojans 25-17, 25-20, 25-23 in the league championship final Sunday afternoon.
The Kings, who are the all-time winningest men’s volleyball program in Canadian Colleges Athletic Association history, will return to the nationals for third straight year, but it’s the first time they go in as Alberta champions.
“I’m in my sixth season as head coach and it’s the first gold medal for us, so it’s good for the program and the guys and it gets a monkey off my back,” said Kings head coach Aaron Schulha.
The Kings toughest test at the provincials was a 3-2 decision over The Kings University College Eagles Friday. They then whipped Briercrest Bible College Clippers 25-18, 25-21, 25-22 in the semifinals before disposing of the Trojans, who will also attend the Canadians in Welland, Ont.
“That first match was a grind as it seemed to take us some time to get rid of some nerves and once we got those out of the way we settled down.”
The Kings had a load of confidence heading into the semifinal as they easily handled Briercrest late in the regular season.
Schulha, and his assistant coaches, spent a good portion of Saturday evening setting up a game plan for SAIT.
“We devised a game plan and they executed it perfectly,” said Schulha. “We didn’t expect to win 3-0, but the guys played well, which was nice to see.”
Tim Finnigan played a major role in the Kings success as he was named tournament all-star and MVP.
“He carried us in that first match against the Eagles and was strong all weekend,” said Schulha.
Chris Osborn was also named to the all-star team.
“Braden O’Toole and Sam Brisbane could have easily made it as well,” said Schulha, who credited the move of Osborn into the middle from the right side as a key to the team’s success.
“We moved Braden in on the right side and those moved paid off,” he said. “It gave us more balance and made us a hard team to scout.”
O’Toole was the player of the match against the Clippers with 10 kills, 10 digs and five aces while Finnigan had 11 kills and Osborn 10 kills and a block. Finnigan, who played for SAIT the last two years, had 14 kills and six digs against the Trojans while O’Toole added 12 kills and four aces and Osborn nine kills, two blocks and three digs.
Former King Darcee Froese had 11 kills for SAIT.
The Kings, who are ranked No. 1 in Canada should go into the nationals as the top ranked team.
“The last two years we were the second team out of Alberta and had a tough draw. This year it should be better, although there are no easy matches once you get to that level, just like the provincials,” said Schulha.