RDC Queens volleyball outside hitter Emma Holmes hits a ball through a pair of Cegep de L’Outaouais Griffons blockers Monday in exhibition play at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

RDC Queens volleyball outside hitter Emma Holmes hits a ball through a pair of Cegep de L’Outaouais Griffons blockers Monday in exhibition play at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Queens volleyball look to stay hot in second half

With more than a month between league matches, it has been a long stretch of behind the scenes work for the RDC Queens.

This weekend, the Queens got to test some new tactics against some new opponents, in a three-day exhibition, scrimmage mini-tournament against five other teams.

Along with SAIT and Olds College, RDC welcomed the Griffons de L’Outaouais and Elans de Garneau of the Quebec Student Sport Federation (RSEQ) to town.

“The timing was the most important thing. The opportunity to get to play a bunch of matches in a condensed period of time,” said Queens coach Talbot Walton about the reason for the event.

“Especially bringing in Quebec, because their style of volleyball is so different. Trying to create that adaptability in our group, to here’s what’s happening and see if we can defend against it. Also, that chance for us to get some good positive touches.”

While the Queens are eighth-best in the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association, Garneau is ranked fifth. That provided a good opportunity to test out tactics against a new opponent and see what works in preparation for the second half of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Association season.

“If these past couple days are any indicator, that time period when they left on Christmas break, we just did a bunch of training and worked on a few new things and it’s transferring into our play, to see it in a game situation,” Walton said.

“It’s really important to see and now we can carry it forward and build on it a bit more.”

The Queens sit second in the ACAC South, with a 10-2 record and 10 straight victories. Their only losses came on the first weekend of the season, to the Briercrest Clippers, who are ranked second in Canada.

Walton said his team will need to tighten up the rotation after experimenting with different looks in the first half.

“From a skills perspective, we can still do a better job of serving and blocking. We’re fairly mobile and tall. As a team, just working on building that chemistry,” he said.

“We rotated through a lot of athletes in the first half. Obviously, it gets a little smaller in the second half, trying to get that right lineup where everybody has bought in. Everybody is supporting one another on the court.”

With the second half starting on Jan. 19 for the Queens, they have several top players in the ACAC.

Second-year outside hitter Emma Holmes is third in the league with 143 kills, kills per set at 3.25 and hitting percentage, 0.360. Rookie setter Emma Letkeman is third in assists per set at 8.10 and fourth-year libero Kaylee Domoney is fifth in digs per set at 3.88. Domoney, a Red Deer product, has 167 digs this season and 884 career digs. She needs just seven more to pass Krista Lougheed as the Queens leader in career digs.

The Queens kick off the second half against the Lethbridge College Kodiaks on Jan. 10 at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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