Cody Boulding’s performance in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference men’s volleyball final against the Lethbridge Kodiaks will go down as one of the more impressive in RDC Kings history … and that’s saying something as the Kings have put together a resume that’s second to none in the country.
But Boulding stood front and centre in the gold medal match, finishing with an astonishing nine stuff blocks against one of the better hitting teams in the ACAC.
“It was a ridiculous performance,” said Kings head coach Aaron Schulha, who moved the 19-year-old Prince George, B.C., native into the middle full time over the second half of the season.
“When he moved full-time into the middle he turned the corner,” said Schulha.
“His confidence shot up and he’s playing at a high level.”
The six-foot-five Boulding had to smile when asked about his performance.
“Honestly it was a team effort,” he said. “We were in hostile territory, in their gym, and underdogs, but we took the mentality going in to just have fun … just play for each other.”
Boulding and Schulha both stressed that was key at the Nationals, which begins Thursday in Fredericton, N.B. The Kings go in ranked second and face the host St. Thomas Tommies in their opening match at 3 p.m. MDT.
“It will be a lot of fun, playing the host team right off the bat and with a big crowd,” said Boulding. “But we have to have the same mentality we had at the provincials.”
“Usually the Maritimes teams aren’t as strong, but with a big crowd and their opening game they’ll force us to be ready, and we will be prepared,” he said. “If we take care of business we face the winner of Durham, who is second in Ontario, and PacWest champion Capilano, which will be a battle, something we can’t worry about until we get there.”
The other side sees undefeated Humber Hawks of Ontario and Lethbridge as the top two seeds.
“It would be nice to see the two Alberta teams in the semifinals and go from there,” said Schulha. “But mainly we’ll concentrate on our side.”
Coming up through high school Boulding could have played either basketball or volleyball. He played for Team B.C. in both, but by the time he reached Grade 12 he had decided on volleyball.
“I kind of let teams know I was going in that direction,” he said.
As a youngster it was basketball first as his mother was an outstanding high school player, and if not for an ACL injury would have played university ball.
“A friend of mine from basketball got me involved in volleyball,” he explained. “At first I almost quit as I wasn’t good at it and I felt I was letting the team down. But I stuck with it and started to improve once I got to Grade 10.”
In Grade 10 he was an all-star at the provincials and selected to the National Youth Development Program. He played Club volleyball and helped the Prince George squad to fourth place at the provincials in 2017. He was also part of Team B.C., which finished fifth at the Nationals.
He had a number of offers to play university and college volleyball, but liked what he saw at RDC.
“I liked their legacy and what I saw in the program.”
He came to RDC looking at playing on the outside.
“We recruited him because of his versatility,” explained Schulha, who used Cody mainly on the outside his rookie season.
“I didn’t play much as Regan (Fathers) came back and we got several other university calibre players,” said Boulding, who started the 2019-20 season on the outside as well.
“It just seemed it wasn’t a fit and once they put Carter (Hills) out there we took off. Also when Ben (Holmes) recovered from his injury I moved back into the middle full time and I started getting chemistry with Tom (setter Wass) and it took off.”
Cody is working on his Batchelor of Science but will switch to Kinesiology next year and will be around for at least two more years. His return along with Aussie Dillon Gauci and Richard Benning the Kings will continue to be strong in the middle.
“I really believe we’ll have as good a middle as anyone in the conference,” Cody said.
“It’s tough losing Mark (DeWit) but those three returning and adding another young guy we should be just fine. I know I’m excited.”
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter and member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org