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.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Attendees of the Downtown Red Deer Market, which runs every Wednesday during the summer on Little Gaetz Avenue, have complained about the lack of public washrooms. (Photo contributed by Red Deer Downtown Business Association)
Portable washrooms to be set up in downtown Red Deer this summer

More data is needed before the city invests in a permanent structure

A survey of 3,083 Red Deer residents was done by an online platform on behalf of the City of Red Deer, generating about 11,607 comments.. (File photo)
Red Deerians speak out about COVID-19 concerns in survey

More than 3,000 city residents were surveyed

A Calgary energy company's request for a tax break was turned down by Lacombe County. About $31,000 was owed by a company that went bankrupt and Silverleaf Resources Inc. bought some of their assets.
(Advocate file photo)
Lacombe County turns down oil company’s tax break request

Silverleaf Resources Inc. hoped for break on $31,000 in back taxes

RCMP recovered hundreds of stolen items, including Bibles and historical items stolen from the Bowden Pioneer Museum.
(Photo from RCMP)
Museum artifacts among hundreds of stolen items recovered by RCMP in central Alberta

Second World War and other historical and religious items recovered

Red Deer dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Kailer Yamamoto (56) and Toronto Maple Leafs' Morgan Rielly (44) reach for the rebound from Leafs goalie Michael Hutchinson (30) during second-period NHL action in Edmonton on Monday, March 1, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Michael Hutchinson earns 31-save shutout, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 3-0

Michael Hutchinson earns 31-save shutout, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 3-0

Washington Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman watches his solo home run during the third inning of a spring training baseball game against the Houston Astros Monday, March 1, 2021, in West Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
In-game video returning to baseball for 2021

In-game video returning to baseball for 2021

Winnipeg Jets' Nathan Beaulieu (88) clears the puck in front of goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) as Vancouver Canucks' Elias Pettersson (40) looks for the rebound during second-period NHL action in Winnipeg on Monday March 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Three first-period goals pace Vancouver Canucks to 4-0 victory over Winnipeg Jets

Three first-period goals pace Vancouver Canucks to 4-0 victory over Winnipeg Jets

Rugby training gear is shown during a Torotno Wolfpack during a practice at Lamport Stadium in Toronto. Bradford, Featherstone, Leigh, London,  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Neil Davidson
Plans announced to create a grassroots Canadian rugby league co-op

Plans announced to create a grassroots Canadian rugby league co-op

Ottawa Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk (7) and centre Chris Tierney (71) get sandwiched between Flames defencemen Rasmus Andersson (4) and Juuso Valimaki (6) during second-period NHL action in Ottawa on Monday, March 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Batherson scores twice for Ottawa Senators in 5-1 win over Calgary Flames

Batherson scores twice for Ottawa Senators in 5-1 win over Calgary Flames

Skiers may be safe from COVID-19, but not those working to keep slopes open: experts

Skiers may be safe from COVID-19, but not those working to keep slopes open: experts

Armas likes what he sees in Toronto FC camp but there are still issues to resolve

Armas likes what he sees in Toronto FC camp but there are still issues to resolve

Team Canada's Jocelyne Larocque celebrates her goal past the U.S.A. with goaltender Embrace Maschmeyer during first period of Women's Rivalry Series hockey action in Vancouver on February 5, 2020. The Canadian women's hockey team opened a camp Monday in Halifax, which is co-hosting the upcoming world championship. Hockey Canada invited 35 players to participate in the seven-day camp closed to the public and media at Scotiabank Centre. The women are training under restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic, including a limit of 25 players on the ice at one time. "They will continue to follow strict COVID-19 testing as per team health and safety protocols that have been detailed and approved by Nova Scotia Public Health," Hockey Canada said Monday in a statement. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canadian women’s hockey team preparing for possible May world championship

Canadian women’s hockey team preparing for possible May world championship

Most Read