Queens volleyball team shore up roster for next year

The group of girls charged with defending the Red Deer College Queens two-year run atop the CCAA women’s volleyball world, will look little like the one that put it there. With nine players moving on from this year’s Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association championship, including five starters and the nationals MVP, head coach Talbot Walton has already found seven players that will attempt to fill those shoes.

The group of girls charged with defending the Red Deer College Queens two-year run atop the CCAA women’s volleyball world, will look little like the one that put it there.

With nine players moving on from this year’s Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association championship, including five starters and the nationals MVP, head coach Talbot Walton has already found seven players that will attempt to fill those shoes.

Stepping onto the roster are Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference transfers setter Megan Kuzyk (NAIT Ooks) and middle Neal Murphy (Grande Prairie Regional College Wolves). He has also added local high school standouts at outside hitter, Cherisse Johannson (Hunting Hills High School), Danya Brachman (Ponoka) and McKenna Barthel (Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School), while also adding Kelsey Paton out of Sherwood Park. Walton also has tapped into the Australian pipeline that the Kings opened up, nabbing outside hitter Jessica Jones.

“We are very fortunate that a few of these people were interested in us early on and we were able to get some commitments as far back as December and then the rest of the pieces we were able to assemble in the second half of the season,” said Walton.

Leaving the program reads as a who’s who of the Queens. South All-Conference Team members Alex Donaghy, Maddi Quinn, and Bronwyn Hawkes are all moving on, as is CCAA championship MVP Leah Koot. Captain Megan Schmidt is joining in the exodus as are Marisa Neufeld, Kendra Sorensen, Kelsey Ewashkiw and Rylee Lang.

It wasn’t just starters leaving, but also players who had been groomed to fill in for when the starters did leave.

Getting two ACAC veterans in at key positions is huge, though Walton says returning setter Ashley Fehr will get first crack at the starting job due to her years put into the program and understanding of the Queens’ systems.

“It’s huge when you get that transfer student,” said Walton. “They already understand the league, they already understand what it means to train everyday and with the length of the season how important it is to take care of academics and their bodies.”

The Queens also continue to make good use of the fertile volleyball grounds of Central Alberta with another strong class to join other local players like Fehr (Innisfail), Hanna Delemont (Hunting Hills) and Olivia Barnes (Sylvan Lake) still on the roster.

“Every year when we look at our program and say, ‘hey we had a strong year, chances are it was because of Central Alberta athletes,” said Walton. “The upside to recruiting Central Alberta athletes is that they know Queens volleyball … Somewhere along the line they’ve seen us or had me coach them, so they have that culture already and it’s not like we have to program that into them, they already know what we’re about.”

Jones is a bit of a wild card for the Queens as Walton is not as familiar with the five-foot-10 outside hitter as he is the local talent he is bringing in. But if the success of the men’s program can be duplicated — they have three elite players out of Australia — then she will become a weapon that can slide right in opposite of returning all-conference power Miranda Dawe.

“She understands the game quite well,” said Walton. “It was an opportunity for us to try something a little different. Typically we’re always within that core of Central Alberta where we can find our athletes, to have an opportunity to add someone internationally will be a little bit unique for us.”

One advantage Walton has at his disposal in the recruiting fields is the ability to drop two CCAA gold medals from the last two years on the table. However, he says much of his recruiting was done prior to the beginning of this year’s post-season, already locking up all of his high school players.

“It doesn’t hurt, though there seems to be a bit of a lag process … I think a lot of interest came from the year previous,” said Walton. “It’s almost a half season behind when the winning takes over and becomes effective.”

Just Posted

Patrons practice on a putting green as the Whitestone Bridge looms in the distance at Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point in the Bronx borough of New York on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. Former President Donald Trump has a rich history of fighting back when he’s down and making others pay, and that’s exactly how he intends to deal with New York City over its plans to fire his company from running the city golf course. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Dump Trump? Kicking him off NYC golf course may not be easy

Trump Organization has been reeling after the Capitol riots

A photo illustration made December 14, 2012 in Montreal shows a computer in chains. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Irish health system says it’s targeted in ransomware attack

Health care systems have been a target before

A woman wearing a mask talks on her phone near an exhibition depicting a rover in Mars in Beijing on Friday, May 14, 2021. China says its Mars probe and accompanying rover are to land on the red planet sometime between early Saturday morning and Wednesday Beijing time. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
China Mars rover to land between Saturday and Wednesday

Only the United States has successfully landed a spacecraft on Mars

Smoke rises following Israeli airstrikes on a building in Gaza City, Thursday, May 13, 2021. Weary Palestinians are somberly marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, as Hamas and Israel traded more rockets and airstrikes and Jewish-Arab violence raged across Israel. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Palestinians flee as Israeli artillery pounds northern Gaza

Israel called up 9,000 reservists as fighting intensifies

Bo’s Bar and Grill owner Brennen Wowk said the hospitality industry is looking for more clarity from the province around what conditions must be met to allow for restaurants reopening. (Advocate file photo)
Frustated restaurant owners want to know government’s reopening plan

Restaurant owners feel they are in lockdown limbo

Team Canada’s head coach Troy Ryan talks with players before the start of the of the Rivalry Series at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, February 3, 2020. Ryan of Spryfield, N.S., has been named head coach of Canada’s women’s hockey team for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Troy Ryan to coach Canadian women’s hockey team in 2022 Winter Olympics

Ryan was Canada’s assistant coach from 2016 to 2019

FILE- In this April 19, 2021, file photo, people wearing masks as a precaution against the coronavirus wait to test for COVID-19 at a hospital in Hyderabad, India. Misinformation about the coronavirus is surging in India as the death toll from COVID-19 rises. Fueled by anguish, distrust and political polarization, the claims are further compounding India’s crisis. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A, File)
Misinformation surges amid India’s COVID-19 calamity

Distrust of Western vaccines and health care also driving misinformation

FILE - In this Friday March 6, 2020, file photo, Britain’s Prince Harry visits the Silverstone Circuit, in Towcester, England. In an episode of the “Armchair Expert” podcast broadcast Thursday, May 13, 2021, Prince Harry compared his royal experience to being on “The Truman Show” and “living in a zoo.” (Peter Nicholls/Pool Photo via AP, File)
Prince Harry thought about quitting royal life in his 20s

Feared his family would have to deal with the same spotlight that was on his late mother

Opinion
Mental health: Gossiping, backbiting and forming factions is unhealthy

We all know of dysfunctional organizations, which can be as troublesome as… Continue reading

Family practice physician Christina Tuomi, D.O., (right) gets Homer's first dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine from Emergency Department nurse Steve Hughes (left) on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020 at South Peninsula Hospital in Homer, Alaska. Tuomi has been the hospital's medical lead throughout the pandemic. (Photo courtesy Derotha Ferraro/South Peninsula Hospital)
Alberta physicians: Vaccines are our path forward

As the AMA representatives for Alberta’s family physicians, we were immensely relieved… Continue reading

Vancouver Canucks' Nils Hoglander, right, is checked by Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom during third-period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Thursday, May 13, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Lindholm, Tkachuk lead Calgary Flames in 4-1 win over Vancouver Canucks

Lindholm, Tkachuk lead Calgary Flames in 4-1 win over Vancouver Canucks

Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, right, drives to the basket against Toronto Raptors center Khem Birch, left, and guard Jalen Harris during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
LaVine, Markkanen lead Bulls past Raptors, 114-102

LaVine, Markkanen lead Bulls past Raptors, 114-102

Most Read