Kennedy Burgess of the Red Deer College Queens looks to make a pass while being defended against by Amy Wanvig of the Briercrest Clippers during ACAC womens basketball action at the RDC Gym on Friday night.

Queens beat Broncos to punch ticket to nationals

OLDS — Megan Schmidt didn’t save her best for last, only because there is still more volleyball for the Red Deer College Queens captain to play. The third-year middle found a new gear in leading the Queens past the Olds College Broncos in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference women’s volleyball semifinals 3-0 (25-21, 28-26, 25-16) on Friday in Olds.

Queens 3 Broncos 0

OLDS — Megan Schmidt didn’t save her best for last, only because there is still more volleyball for the Red Deer College Queens captain to play.

The third-year middle found a new gear in leading the Queens past the Olds College Broncos in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference women’s volleyball semifinals 3-0 (25-21, 28-26, 25-16) on Friday in Olds.

Not only did the win take the Queens into today’s provincial final, but it punches their ticket for the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association Championship in Montreal from March 12-14.

Schmidt was part of the Queens’ national title last year, but this is a chance for her and this year’s team to leave their own mark.

“It’s really exciting, I love the team this year, we have a really good flow together,” said Schmidt, who is in her final year with the club. “It’s going to be a good way to end it, just knowing we’re in the finals and going to nationals is pretty sweet.”

RDC will face the Grande Prairie Regional College Wolves, the team they beat in last year’s provincial final, at 3:30 p.m.

The Broncos almost stopped RDC’s efforts at repeating in an epic second set.

Olds struggled early with unforced errors, allowing the Queens to jump out to a 16-10 lead, but with Lacombe’s Naomi Jardine serving the hosts rallied back and took an 18-16 lead.

RDC managed to tie it up at 18-18 but the lead continued to trade hands until the Broncos’ Jamie Craig missed on a cross-court kill to give the Queens a 28-26 set win and a 2-0 advantage in the match.

The set showcased the Queens’ veteran savvy, having been in so many close games this year and having faced down provincial and national championship set points in the past.

“(Head coach Talbot Walton) always instills in us that as soon as it gets to 22-22, that’s when we start to play, don’t flinch, and we’ve been showing it all year,” said Schmidt.

The Broncos, however, missed their shot at tying the match and never recovered, as the Queens made quick work of the third set with all of the momentum on their side.

“It’s an emotional game and when you try so hard to get back into it and have opportunities to do it and it’s a fine margin of good plays and bad plays, it’s a tough one,” said Broncos head coach Chris Wandler. “We just didn’t get emotionally charged back up for that third set. It could have gone either way. That was the teetering point.”

Schmidt did not lead the Queens in any statistical category, but she was clutch all match. She made several momentum crushing kills to end Olds College point-runs and was a calming, consistent force on the floor.

She ended with eight kills, one ace and two digs.

“Those are the ones a coach remembers for an athlete, Megan has been with us for three years and I think that’s the best match I’ve ever seen her play,” said Walton. “She scored on a high percentage of her balls, she served it really well and she made some really timely digs for a middle blocker, those are huge contributions in the world of volleyball to have those types of players do those types of things when you need them.”

Miranda Dawe earned player of the game honours for RDC with a match-high 14 kills and 13 digs with one block while Kelsey Tymkow had 13 kills, six digs and a block, and setter Bronwyn Hawkes had 37 assists and eight digs.

Dawe has teased her top-flight ability all season, but came alive in the second set on Friday and dominated in the third set, including getting match point with a kill that deflected off the blocker and still found the line.

The Broncos were led by Mikaela Pushor with eight kills and eight digs while Jardine had seven kills and 11 digs, Craig had 28 assists, one kill and five digs.

Olds still has a shot at third place in the ACAC when they face the Briercrest Clippers today at 1 p.m.

It has been a big year for the Broncos, and they may emerge as the South Division favourite next year with as many as 13 players returning while RDC loses eight.

“The South is strong period, you have three teams in the top 12 in the country battling it out and it may have been 3-0 but the score doesn’t really indicate what type of struggle it is for both teams,” said Wandler. “Our third year in the conference and we have a chance to run out with a conference medal and I think the girls should be proud of their effort.”

• The RDC Kings also clinched a spot in provincials by advancing to the ACAC men’s volleyball championship final with a 3-0 (25-22, 25-16, 25-12) win over the NAIT Ooks on Friday in Camrose.

Freshman middle Adam Turlejski led the Kings with 12 kills and one stuff block.

The defending national champions will be looking for their third straight provincial title today at the University of Alberta-Augustana in Camrose at 7:30 p.m., when they play the host Vikings.

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