Kings 3 Trojans 1
The RDC Kings did what they had to do to earn the right to host the Alberta Colleges Men’s Volleyball League playoffs, but didn’t receive the help they needed.
The Kings downed the SAIT Trojans 25-13, 25-22, 20-25, 25-18 at RDC Saturday, but the Mount Royal University Cougars didn’t come through as they dropped 18-25, 36-38, 21-25 decision to The Kings University College Eagles at home.
The Kings and the Eagles finished the first half of the season tied at 9-1, but the Kings have a 29-9 won-loss record in terms of sets while the Eagles at 28-7.
“When you’re 9-1 and not hosting it’s a little frustrating, but so be it” said Kings head coach Aaron Schulha. “We’ll just have to contnue to try to improve during the second half of the schedule and be ready for the championships.”
The worst thing about this year’s schedule is that the Kings and Eagles didn’t meet during the first half.
“The way it’s set up this is about the only fair way to do it.,” added Schulha. “It came down to sets won and lost and unfortunately we let a couple get away. We went into Lakeland and dropped a couple sets with a new lineup, but that’s no excuse, we just didn’t play well enough in those sets.”
Still the Kings won their final four matches of the season without starting outside hitter Darcee Froese, who is out with a shoulder injury.
“When we lost him there were no guaranteed wins,” continued Schulha. “But David (King), who didn’t play a lot last year, and Quentin (Schmidt), who is a first-year guy, stepped up and played well.”
Both were solid Saturday, and except for a brief let-down in the third set, the team looked like a championship calibre squad.
“We did let down in the third set,” said Schulha. “It’s a bit frustrating as we get caught off-guard at times. We didn’t seem to want to play that hard after beating them five straight sets. We should have expected them to come out hard in that third set as they’re a good team and well-coached. But over all we played well enough to get this done and I was happy with the way the guys played as they kept the thoughts of hosting the playoffs out of their minds.”
The Kings were led by setter Nick Bell and right side hitter Taylor Hunt, who finished with 19 kills, five aces, two stuff blocks and eight digs.
“Taylor is coming into his own . . . he’s a game-changer,” said Schulha. “When he’s enjoying himself and working on defence the rest of his game improves and he makes everyone around him better.”
Schmidt added 12 kills and two blocks for the Kings while King had seven kills and three blocks and Boston Maris five kills and four blocks. Devon Van Nistelrooy had 11 kills and Patrick Mead eight for SAIT.
The Kings are off until the Mount Royal tournament Jan 2-4
Queens 3 Trojans 0
The RDC Queens finally got back on the winning track with a 25-21, 25-17, 25-22 victory over the Trojans.
The win ended a five-game losing streak for the two-time defending league champions.
“We needed to get out of November,” said Queens head coach Talbot Walton with a smile. “But the main thing was we relaxed a bit and played more like athletes. We didn’t get out heads in the way of what our bodies should be doing. This is a small patch on the last month, it didn’t fix everything, but it’s good to get that over and done with and move on.”
There were still mistakes on the RDC side, but when they were pushes in the third set, which was tied at 15 and 17, they didn’t fold.
“That set was similar to last night (at SAIT), but we didn’t execute then while tonight it was cleaner and we trusted ourselves.”
Walton only made a couple of chances from Friday when they lost 3-0 to SAIT. He inserted rookie Kirsten Sorensen in at setter and switched Jaclyn Neufeld with Brooke Sutter, moving Neufeld to the right side and Sutter to power.
“It gave us a little more size on the right side, plus Brooke does a steady job passing and is able to run down things on defence. She’s like having a second libero out there.”
Robyn Denney had 12 kills and five digs for RDC while Sutter had five kills, four aces and four digs, Mandy Carroll five kills, Danielle Newton four kills and two blocks and Neufeld four kills and two blocks. Tarah Truant had 13 digs. Daly Donaghy had eight kills for SAIT.
The Queens will travel to Hawaii after Christmas along with three other college teams.
l RDC honoured long-time volleyball referee, Al Lagore of Stettler, who officially retired following the Kings match after 40 years . . .Robyn Froese of Lindsay Thurber and Danielle Harder of Notre Dame are on the Trojans women’s team with Tim Finnigan of Notre Dame with the SAIT men.