RDC Kings middle Mark DeWit hits a ball past VIU Mariners blocker Keal Prince in the semifinal of the CCAA Men’s Volleyball National Championship at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre on Friday. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

RDC Kings sweep VIU Mariners, into finals at CCAA Men’s Volleyball Nationals

Will play Fanshawe Falcons for gold at 8 p.m. Saturday

The RDC Kings are one win away from another national title.

They made quick work of the VIU Mariners on Friday night in the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Men’s Volleyball Championship semifinal.

RDC swept the Mariners in three sets (25-23, 25-20, 26-24) and will play the undefeated OCAA champion Fanshawe College Falcons for gold Saturday night at 8 p.m. at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.

“It feels good, but we’re where we planned to be. The guys have put in a pile of work to get there, now it’s just a matter of going out and enjoying it,” said Kings head coach Aaron Schulha.

“It’s a matter of trying to dial in the nerves early. Find a way to come out like we did the first day. It’s going to be a hell of a battle. They’re undefeated for a reason. They have some really good athletes over there. But we’re looking forward to it.”

The Kings trailed 6-1 to start the opening set Friday but a timeout seemed to spark the home side. They put together a nice run to go ahead 17-12 and pushed to a 25-23 win in the set.

VIU started strong again in the second set up 5-1 only to see the home side rally back. RDC held a 20-17 advantage and let the Mariners climb back in a little bit before closing the set out 25-20.

RDC fell behind for the third straight set before catching fire. They trailed 5-1 before a pair of blocks from fifth-year right side Regan Fathers put the Kings up 9-6 and forced a VIU timeout. The visitors refused to quit and worked all the way back to tie the set at 17.

It was back-and-forth for the rest of the third set, but RDC just managed to pull away and earn the win 26-24, with a big block to end it.

“We started about as poorly as we could have in all three sets. Just being able to right the ship and take a breath and figure things out,” Schulha said.

“Really resilient. Staying the course when things weren’t going well. It’s amazing, even volleyball at a really a high level has so much to do with first contact.”

Kings middle Mark DeWit was clutch all night long for the home side, with 11 kills and three blocks to earn player of the match honours. Along with setter Tom Wass, who had 36 assists in the three sets, the duo had good chemistry in the win.

“Some days we just have it. Felt really good today. He just found me. I was hanging up there and I was ready for it,” DeWit said.

Fathers might very well be the MVP of the tournament and proved why again leading all players in the match with 17 kills to go along with a match-high four blocks.

In other the semi, the Fanshawe Falcons and Keyano College Huskies tangled in a five-set marathon.

The Falcons managed to outlast Keyano 15-12 in the fifth set to win the match and book a spot in the national final against the Kings Saturday night at 8 p.m.

“It’s about as storybook as it can get. National finals at home, against an undefeated team. It’s going to be fun,” added Schulha.

Fanshawe opened the match with a 25-19 win, but the Huskies battled back to win sets two and three (25-21, 25-21). The Falcons forced the deciding set with a 25-22 win.

Liam Matheson had 13 kills on 30 attempts to earn player of the game for Keyano. Justin Delorme had 19 on 47 attempts to lead the way for the Huskies.

James Jackson picked up player of the game honours for the Falcons, with 19 kills and 24 points, along with eight digs.

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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