Queens 2 Eagles 1
The RDC Queens didn’t have an easy time taking care of the The Kings University College Eagles in the final of the Wild Rose Classic.
But that’s just fine with head coach Talbot Walton, who got an opportunity to see all of his players under game conditions, as the Queens recorded a 25-27, 25-16, 15-9 victory Sunday afternoon.
“It was a chance to use all our athletes and see them in different spots,” he said.
He got an opportunity to see two first-year players — setter Bronwyn Hawkes of Notre Dame and Alexis West, who played at Olds last year — play the entire second set and then step in in the middle of the third set and help change the momentum in RDC’s favour.
“It wasn’t until I made the double switch in the third set that changed the flow,” said Walton. “That was nice to see and a great surprise to see those two change the course of that set.”
Hawkes, who will backup starter Kirsten Sorensen, impressed Walton.
“She carries herself extremely well. When I talk to her she seems a bit nervous or excited, but she doesn’t let it affect her on the court, and she makes a lot of good decisions. The tempo we want her to set at is close. When the ball comes out of the setters hands you can tell if we have a chance to win the point and when it comes out of her hands it looks like we can score.”
Third-year power hitter Brooke Sutter, who was the only veteran on the floor in the second set, is equally impressed with the rookies.
“I’m excited, all the rookies are really good and the way we’ve started the year off we’re in a good spot,” she said. “We definitely had a good team last year, but Talbot recruited some good girls and they’re all from Central Alberta, which is cool.”
Walton was able to spread the playing time around during the weekend.
“It says a lot about how we did,” said Sutter. “It was also good to get everyone in, which means it should help us get off to a strong start to the season.”
Sutter felt playing a solid Eagle team didn’t hurt either.
“They’re scrappy and we always have good games against them,” said Sutter. “It was nice to see them in the final and beat them.”
She did say that a 25-15, 25-15 win over the Olds College Broncos in the semifinal Saturday was as rewarding.
“They have some Central Alberta girls, our former coach (Chris Wandler) and one of our players from last year (Telaina Snider) so that was a good win. That could have been our best game of the tournament.”
Walton is happy with the level of play his team showed early in the season, although there are still things to work on.
“Our serving wasn’t as strong as it could be, plus Kings has a big, physical block and we weren’t hitting angles and were reverting back to a few things we need to get out of our systems.
But we got a chance to see everyone and see what they’re capable of and set that bar at a high level. Now we continue to push and get better.”
Walton also admitted he’ll have some trouble setting a starting lineup.
“With that much depth it will allow us a lot of flexibility and we shouldn’t get tired. At times we overloaded certain athletes, but with the ability to use a variety of lineups we’ll keep everyone fresh.”
The RDC Alumni, which lost 2-1 to the Eagles in the semifinals, downed Olds 18-25, 28-26, 15-10 in the third-place game.
The Queens downed the College of the Rockies from Cranbrook 25-23, 25-19 in the quarter-finals while Olds stopped Ambrose College of Calgary 25-17, 25-210 in the round of 16, and NAIT 25-19, 25-20 in the quarter-finals.
The Eagles defeated Keyano College of Fort McMurray 25-15, 25-11 in the quarter-finals while the Alumni stopped Augustana Vikings of Camrose 25-23, 25-12 in the quarter-finals.
The RDC Kings will see their first action of the season Tuesday when they host their Alumni.