The Red Deer College Queens volleyball team’s cultural exchange with Hokushu University from Ebetsu, Japan, continues to be a one-sided affair.
Unfortunately for the Queens, their on the wrong side of the long standing exhibition series.
The two schools played four matches over the last four days, and until Tuesday’s final showdown, Hokushu had not dropped a set. The Queens finally ended the unblemished run in their last meeting at Red Deer College, but still lost 3-2 (22-25, 25-23, 22-25, 25-18, 15-11).
The Queens finished the first semester of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference season in first place (11-1, 34-10) and as the top ranked team in the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association. Being brought back to Earth can be a useful point of growth for the program.
“We progressed the last four games and I thought today we gave them a really good shot,” said Queens head coach Talbot Walton. “We’re just growing and growing the last four days, and that’s all I wanted was for us to get better and not miss out on this opportunity.”
Walton has been apart of nine of these meetings so far with Hokushu — five in Central Alberta and four in Japan — and the meeting continues to be an important one for both schools.
For the visiting team, it’s an opportunity for that club to experience a new culture and see a different part of the world while still playing top level volleyball.
Whiel in Red Deer, the two teams toured Central Alberta, going all of the way down to Drumheller to tour the dinosaur park and then also up to Edmonton to hit West Edmonton Mall. In the meantime, they played games in Olds, Sylvan Lake and Thorsby.
For both teams, it is a chance to share different ideas, especially on the court.
For the Queens, it was a chance to play a physically small but technically sound and fast attacking squad.
“Having the opportunity to play against a team that has really good control of the ball has forced us into finding new areas of our game,” said Walton. “It has really taught us some new things and it also has perhaps exposed us on a few things as well. Individually and as a team, we know where we have to improve.”
It was also a chance for some players to get their game back on track. In particular for the Queens, Alex Donaghy had a solid series. The second year middle of Sylvan Lake has had an up and down first semester, but looked solid all week.
“We expect big things from Alex,” said Walton. “I think she had a really good year in her first year and she showed she could play at a really high level. You want her to play good all of the time, I think she’s really important — for us to play well, she’s got to play well.”
The Queens are now off for Christmas, but will get back together to start training again just before the new year, and will head to The King’s University College in Edmonton for a tournament on Jan. 2.