The RDC Kings celebrated three graduating players on Friday, as head coach Aaron Schulha (left) presented them with a memento. Setter Tom Wass, middle Mark DeWit and Ben Holmes are all moving on from the Kings program. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

RDC Kings volleyball win 10th straight match, honour three grads

Red Deer’s Ben Holmes, Tom Wass and Mark DeWit were all celebrated before the match Saturday

Kings 3 Rattlers 0

The RDC Kings made it look easy to round out the regular season.

After some mid-match struggles Friday against the Medicine Hat College Rattlers, they had no trouble Saturday and make quick work of the visitors with a three-set sweep (25-17, 25-12, 25-12). It was the 10th straight match win for the Kings, who have only lost once in 2020.

The Kings will likely finish second in the ACAC South and play The King’s University Eagles, who finished third in the opening game of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference Provincial Championships Thursday in Lethbridge.

With that in mind, Kings head coach Aaron Schulha said his group tried to treat Saturday like an extension of provincials and it worked, playing some of their best volleyball to date.

“We made the changes that we discussed after the match (Friday) and the guys really took to heart preparing like this was a playoff match because we’re rapidly running out of time,” said Schulha.

“Came out of the gates quickly and we were able to sustain it all the way through. It’s a nice way to finish out the season at home and send off our graduating players. Most importantly, it’s a good feeling heading into the playoffs.”

Tom Wass, the Kings third-year setter was the key piece to many of those good feelings Saturday. The Australian setter was one of three graduating Kings honoured before the match and has been a huge part of their late-season success this year.

He took his game to another level in 2019-20, as he set the new Kings mark for career assists and also leads the ACAC with 9.35 assists-per set. He had 30 helpers in the match victory Saturday.

“Tom has been a starter for the last three years. At times last year, it was easy to just lay it up to Regan (Fathers) when things got tough,” Schulha said of Wass, who will be moving back to Australia and work towards becoming a firefighter when the season wraps up.

“He’s really started to think the game at a much high level and run a higher quality offence and keep things balanced which makes us a hard team to play against.”

Fourth-year outside hitter Ben Holmes, a Red Deer product also had a fine farewell sendoff at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.

Playing in front of his family and friends, Holmes dialed up 10 kills Saturday on just 15 attempts. He said it was an emotional game to play and it still hasn’t really hit him that his career at RDC is coming to a close.

“I think it’s going to take a while to sink in. It’s been a long four years here and it’s a lot of games, people and moments and memories,” said Holmes, who has won national gold and silver with Kings volleyball.

“Doesn’t really feel like it’s the last one but I’m sure it will sink in some more.”

Mark DeWit, the Kings third-year middle blocker is also moving on to Mount Royal University, where he will suit up with the Cougars at the U Sports level. As a co-captain along with Holmes, Schulha said their leadership on and off the court has made a huge impact on the program.

“Both Ben and Mark, the GPAs and being good examples for the guys, as well as being in the weight room all the time,” he said.

“Not just what they bring to the floor here, they’re quality leaders off the floor as well. To be losing our two captains hurts, but they’ve set a good enough example, that guys who are returning next year will follow their lead and lead by example.”

First-year outside hitter Carter Hills led the Kings with 13 kills, while Australian Patrik Toze chipped in nine.

The Kings head to Lethbridge for provincials Tuesday night, before a practice day Wednesday, beginning play Thursday.

Red Deer College Kings and Queens

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