For the first time since 2015, the RDC Queens are bringing home a national medal.
The Queens earned bronze on Saturday afternoon in Quebec, knocking off the Fanshawe College Falcons in four sets (25-14,25-16, 18-25, 25-21) at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Women’s Volleyball National Championship.
“It feels amazing to have done it with my team. It was so exciting, everyone ran onto the floor and it’s a win as a family,” said Queens second-year outside hitter Emma Holmes shortly after the win.
It was also sweet redemption for the Queens, who were eliminated from gold medal contention by the Falcons in the opening match of the championship Thursday.
RDC also needed to knock off the rival Breircrest College Clippers in the bronze semifinal earlier Saturday to even have a chance at bronze. The Clippers had beat RDC four times in five games this season before that match.
“We didn’t start the tournament as well as we had hoped, got a little better on day 2 and put it all together on day 3. Had that one really good day of volleyball and it resulted in a medal,” said Queens head coach Talbot Walton.
“It is a very tough medal to win with that backdoor bronze. There were 18 matches this weekend and we played four and a lot of them went to five sets. The level of compete we showed, that grittiness to find a way to win, really makes me super happy they had an opportunity to come away with a medal.”
Holmes, after being taken out of the bronze semifinal match against Briercrest, returned to her usual all-star form against the Falcons. The Red Deer product led the Queens with 13 kills on 33 attempts and also had 13 digs and four block assists in the win. She was a second-team all-star at the tournament.
“I knew that I had worked all season and I wanted to end on a good note. I knew I could play to my capabilities and I just reset, it’s a new game, new me,” she said with a laugh.
Ali Greenshields and McKenna Olson were also a force in the middle for RDC. Greenshields had eight kills, one stuff block and five block assists, while Olson chipped in six kills and two block assists. Greenshields was also named a first team tournament all-star.
“We got big production from Ali Greenshields all day. Especially in that fourth set (in the bronze medal match), she controlled that one sequence and I think she scored five or six points in that three rotations across the front,” Walton said.
As usual, Queens libero Kaylee Domoney was solid as a rock, contributing 17 digs and earning player of the game honours.
The Queens were also able to limit Janelle Albert, who hurt them big time in the first matchup. Albert had 16 kills on 41 attempts in the loss for Fanshawe and was named a first-team tournament all-star.
“I thought we did a good job of serving and got them out of their system and really forced them to set that ball to one spot where we knew where it was going to go and we could defend fairly well from that,” added Walton.
The win ended the season for the Queens. It wrapped up a remarkable year where they finished with a 21-3 record in Alberta Colleges Athletic Association play, as well as a 5-2 record in playoff play (ACAC Championships and CCAA Championships). All of that leaves a certain level of pride for Walton and the Queens coaching staff, but it was the team’s commitment to work ethic and each other that he was ulitmately proud of.
“It’s hard to measure that level of proudness. At the start of the season you have a thought in your head, let’s see if with this team, this skill set we can push them along and help them as far as we can and see where we can end up,” Walton said.
“That group never stopped learning the whole season. I kept throwing more information at them and challenging them. They would challenge back. We just grew stronger and stronger as a group all season.”