Local sports: Emma Holmes wraps up stellar high school volleyball career

Emma Holmes can look back at her high school volleyball career with pride.

The 17-year-old from Red Deer not only was a key member of the 2017 provincial high school 4A champion Lindsay Thurber Raiders but slammed home the gold medal winning point.

“The play before I was blocked, but they came right back to me,” she said. “It was really cool to get the winning point. And winning the provincials was a perfect way to finish my high school career. Something I will always remember.”

While her high school career — at least in volleyball — has come to an end, she’s just beginning the next step in that career. She helped the Central Alberta Queens Club U18 team to a silver medal in the provincials and a berth in the Nationals and has committed to play for the RDC Queens next season.

In fact the five-foot-10 right side hitter was one of the early recruits by Queens head coach Chris Wandler.

“I had a couple other offers, but Red Deer has a strong program and my brother (Ben) will be still there and I get a chance to stay at home,” she said. “It will also be great to play in the new facility.”

Wandler needed a strong recruiting class this season with the majority of his starters leaving after last season.

He was more than thrilled to have Holmes come on board.

“She adds a lot of athletic ability to the lineup,” he said. “She’s multi-dimensional and brings a lot of experience with her. She plays a smart game, has a great vertical, can pass and is strong at the net.”

Holmes is one of four players off the U18 Queens team to commit to RDC next year, joining Ali Greenshields of Notre Dame, Megan Steenbergen of Sylvan Lake and Sydney Rix of LTCHS.

“It’s important to bring in the best local talent and for them to continue to wear Queens colours,” added Wandler. “And with them coming in and opening the new facility it’s part of the next chapter.”

Holmes got into volleyball in middle school but has competed in a number of sports, including basketball, track, cross-country running, tennis, soccer and badminton. She also has been a provincial level athlete in beach volleyball, competing for Team Alberta at last year’s nationals, finishing fifth in the the U17 Tier 2 division,

She will play some beach this summer with Rix.

“I enjoy playing beach as it helps develop my game,” she said. “It makes me smarter as you have to do different things and make different shots.

“In fact playing a number of sports helped in my development.”

Holmes goes into college as a right side player, although she has played power and setter.

“My first year on the senior team in Grade 10 I was a setter, but the last two I’ve been on the right side,” she explained. “I like that the best, but I have played power before and can play different positions.”

That’s something Wandler likes.

“We’ll look at her on the right side, but she can play a number of positions, which will only help the team.”

Holmes believes her time with the Raiders and the Queens Club program were perfect for her development.

“I think the years with the Raiders were important as we played as a team and had success. It shows what you can do by playing together. In the Club program you’re playing against top level athletes, which challenges me.”

Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at drode@reddeeradvocate.com

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