The RDC Queens have all the ingredients to make another run at the Alberta Colleges Women’s Volleyball League championship.
The defending champions have experience in all but one starting slot and Lindsay Thurber grad Danielle Newton has taken care of that.
Newton has stepped in opposite four-year veteran middle Mandy Carroll (nee Norris) and the Queens haven’t missed a beat.
“It’s been good, the team has connected, which is nice,” said Newton, who gives the Queens quickness and another threat to score out of the middle.
“She has a very good arm and the step-around play in the women’s offence is a big part of the game and she does it very well,” said Queens head coach Talbot Walton.
“She also has a good sense to go after the ball and as she gains experience other parts of her game will only get better. She’ll turn into a well-rounded middle blocker for us.”
Newton was one of Walton’s top recruits this season as he knew she’d be nice fit for his veteran squad.
“I talked with her coaches and they said she’d fit in nicely,” he said. “She’s a quality athlete, who does an outstanding job academically and is a good person. She’s also an athlete who has consistently improved over the last three years.”
Newton has a solid high school and club background here, having played with the LTCHS Raiders, who are consistently ranked among the elite teams in the province, and played three years with Team Alberta. She also played with the Red Deer Queens Volleyball Club.
“That experience was good for sure,” said the five-foot-11 Newton. “It made it a lot easier transition. Playing at Lindsay Thurber certainly helped as they have two amazing coaches (Kirsten DeZutter and Barb Young) and they really emphasize team play and playing together.”
The veterans on the Queens also made it easy for her to step in.
“The girls here are used to playing at such a different level, yet they made it easy for me to come in. They do everything so well and I just try to do my best.”
But Newton, who battled Notre Dame grad Sam Fraser for the starting spot, believed she had a shot at starting this season.
“I hoped I would,” she said. “I tried to work hard at every practice.”
Newton felt for several years she would end up at RDC.
“It was always in the back of my head then last year I decided for sure it was the best fit for me,” said the 18-year-old Red Deer native, who is taking science.
Newton understands she has to keep working in certain areas, but also knows her strengths.
“I guess one of my strengths is my quickness, plus I find I’m aware of what’s going on on the court,” she said.
She needed those assets to adjust to the league.
“I found the speed the game faster and you’re always up against big hitters, which I found to be an adjustment.”
Newton will get her toughest test this weekend as the Queens face the Mount Royal University Cougars in a home-and-home series — Friday in Calgary and Saturday at RDC. The women get action underway at 6 p.m. both days with the men to follow.
The Queens go in with a 6-0 record with MRU at 4-0.
The weekend is even bigger for the RDC Kings, who can take a major step toward clinching first place in the south with a weekend sweep. They sit with a 5-1 mark with MRU at 3-1. The South Division leaders at Christmas will host the ACAC finals this year.
• The hockey Queens return to action tonight at they host the SAIT Trojans at 7 p.m. at the Arena. The teams also meet Friday at SAIT.
• The basketball squads also face Mount Royal in a weekend twin bill — Friday at RDC and Saturday in Calgary. The women tip off at 6 p.m. with the men to follow.
• The RDC cross-country team will compete in the Canadian championship Saturday in Camrose.
• Volleyball Queens right side hitter, Jessica Clutton, who leads the south in kills, was named the Moxie’s Classic Grill RDC female athlete of the week.
Basketball Kings first-year forward Chris Porteous received the top male award.