Queens win 13th straight match, take five-set thriller over Ambrose University Lions

The RDC Queens were pushed to the limit Friday at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.

It wasn’t the prettiest win for the Queens, but the five-set victory (25-20, 24-26, 25-19, 24-26, 15-10) over the Ambrose University Lions was still a win, RDC’s 13th straight on the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference women’s volleyball season.

The Lions had plenty on the line and played like it, scrapping out a pair of 26-24 set wins to extend the match to five sets. Ambrose was six points back of the Queens in the ACAC South standings heading into the game Friday.

“Each weekend we play, each team brings a bit of a different focus or reason to play. For us, that’s just another match that we have to get better at. For them, it’s a match that they could move up the standings. We were fairly prepared for that. For the most part, we followed our game plan,” Queen’s coach Talbot Walton said.

“A couple of sets, 24-26, in those two sets that’s the difference of maybe one play, one call, maybe one little lapse by us or else we could have had that 3-0.”

RDC was scrappy too, landing a number of digs inside the lines on the other side of the court in the fifth set to pull away from the visitors.

” We got a couple of lucky digs there, too,” Walton said with a chuckle.

“We pursued the ball hard too and it bounced around and somehow got hands on it to play it over top of the net. That’s that grittiness that we’re looking for. That takes a long time to convince them that they can do that and it’s okay to play that style. We’re starting to understand that they have the capacity to be an extremely good defensive team and dig a ton of balls.”

The opening set was sloppy and the flow of the game never really seemed to slide fully in the Queens favour, as it has during the 14-match win streak.

Still, they got 50 kills from three outside hitters, including second-year stalwart Emma Holmes who had a game-high 20 kills. Second-year Tess Pearman chipped in 15, including several clutch points in the fifth set, while fourth-year Erin Neufeldt added 15.

“Our outside hitter delivered it. They had over 50 kills between the three of them. It’s a big total and if we can get 12 kills per set from outside hitters we’re going to win and we got 15,” Walton said.

McKenna Olson provided another option for the Queens, picking up 11 kills and player of the game honours. Second-year Lions libero, Journey Flewell of Red Deer had 11 digs and Julia Kemper was player of the game with 19 kills.

The evening was also a unique one off the court, as it represented the ACAC Make Some Noise for Mental Health campaign. Walton said seeing the support the campaign provides from a coaching perspective is huge to his team and the college as a whole.

“From a student athlete’s point of view, it’s tremendous,” Walton said.

“They deal with a lot as students, then as a student-athlete, there’s also that added pressure of performance in this environment, where one little mistake, confidence-wise can have a pretty big impact.”

Kings 3 Lions 1

The RDC Kings didn’t bring their most consistent effort Friday against the Ambrose University Lions, but still managed to get the job done in four sets (25-20, 22-25, 25-17, 25-21).

RDC had 21 service errors in the win and only registered kills on 28 per cent of their attacks.

At this point in the year, Kings head coach Aaron Schulha expects better for his squad.

“A lot of it was ugly. Even in the first set, it looked very scrambly,” he said.

“We got away from what we were doing well. We missed way too many serves. Missed serves and attacks, you’re not going to beat many teams in this league. (Ambrose) played well, you have to give them credit. They ran a little bit of a different lineup and their 6-10, middle was a bit of a difference-maker.”

Stephen Jones was that middle, he had eight kills for the Lions and was player of the game.

Patrik Toze led the attack for the Kings, he had 14 kills in the victory. Rookie Carter Hills chipped in 11 kills and veteran Ben Holmes added 10.

With the win, the Kings are tied for third in the ACAC with the Briercrest College Clippers at 22 points.

RDC heads to Calgary Saturday to take on the Lions.

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