RDC Kings fifth-year middle Paul Mennie hits a ball past a Les Titans de Limoilou blocker during the first set of the Christmas Tournament finale at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Kings win Christmas tournament finale

The RDC Kings can feel really good about how they ended 2018.

They finished the first ever Christmas Tournament with a three-set sweep on home court Sunday against the defending Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association men’s volleyball Les Titans de Limoilou.

RDC won the first set 25-20, then rolled in the second 25-10 before closing out the match with a 25-23 win.

It was a stark contrast to their tentative and sub-par performance against Fanshawe College Saturday, who is the top team in the country.

“Pretty smooth, we had a lengthy chat after the (Saturday) match. We just made way too many errors against a really good team. Fanshawe played really clean,” Kings head coach Aaron Schulha said.

“(Sunday) They did a really good job of communicating in between rallies and during rallies. That was our best defensive performance all around in a long time. We got a lot of transition points from quality defence. I thought everyone who got a chance to play did a really good job.”

In particular, it was on the defensive side of the court that the Kings excelled. With veteran hitters like Regan Fathers and Ben Holmes, the key for RDC to take the next step is strong blocking and a good first touch.

Schulha added that from the service line, his team can still be better by being more aggressive and reducing the number of errors.

“I think we can be a more explosive serving team. We were better, as good as we’ve been the whole tournament. But a guy like Regan (Fathers) can go off for a handful of aces and he’s still making a few too many errors,” he said.

I think we can get a few more free points on our serve. If we’re blocking and playing defence like that against a good team, just serving the ball in is important as well.”

Veteran middle Adam Turlejski also missed most of the tournament, but the Kings expect him back early in the second half, which will also add another dynamic to their attack.

The Kings finished the first annual Christmas Tournament 3-1 and Schulha said his group learned what it takes to compete against some of the best schools in Canada.

“We know what the (Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference) has to offer. There’s a lot of good teams in the ACAC but for guys to see top-end teams and the top-end athletes across the country is important,” Schulha said.

“So guys know where we need to improve. (Sunday) was likely the cleanest match we’ve played all year… it is really important for our guys to see what a complete match looks like.”

RDC will kick off the second half of the ACAC schedule at Ambrose University on Jan. 4, before getting back on home court Jan. 5.

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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