Queens 3 Lions 0
The RDC Queens were rolling in their home opener at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.
RDC swept away the Ambrose University Lions in three sets (25-19, 25-22, 25-20) and were led by Ponoka’s Tess Pearman.
Pearman, a second-year player in first with the Queens after playing for the McEwan University Griffins was a force Saturday, picking up 16 kills to earn player of the game honours in the victory.
“You watch her play and you watch her move, just the physicality of her is so incredible for our league,” said Queens coach Talbot Walton.
“We know that she has those big games in her and she hasn’t really felt comfortable enough to go after it. I thought (Friday), she went out with a little more purpose in her game and she continued that (Saturday). She went off pretty well.”
Setter Kelly Heinemann had 31 assists for the Queens and veteran libero Kaylee Domoney chipped in 13 digs. Red Deer product and libero Journey Flewell was the player of the game for the Lions with 13 digs.
It was a homecoming in its own right for Walton, who after three years away from the Queens bench dealing with health concerns, returned to take over this season. He said once he got healthy, the itch was just too hard to ignore and he was ready to come back and coach.
“Not knowing three or four years ago if I would be here and if I’d be healthy enough to recover from surgery. It was all up in the air and at that time I didn’t even think it was going to be a possibility,” said Walton, who needed a liver transplant because of a rare condition.
“As I gradually got better and better, I went to a couple of practices and caught the bug again. Every time an athlete would reach out to me, current or former and they said how much they missed me around the court, gave me that little bit extra– to work a little bit harder and just have something to chase after.”
Walton’s group looked steady in the win over Ambrose, cutting off momentum for the visitors whenever they rallied. He said he was especially impressed with the way his team closed out sets as well.
“I thought we played really well. (Friday) I thought we had the ability to take control of the match. We never put out foot down and made plays back to back,” said Walton.
“Those little strings we’d score in bunches and (Friday) we gave up a few more of those. (Saturday) we put a stop to them right away. We were very good after the score was at 20. We played good volleyball those last five points.”
Even with deficits in both the second and third set, the Queens were able to push back and pull away. Walton added another key momentum was when backup setter Emma Letkeman came into the game and got Emma Holmes more involved. Holmes had an absolutely monster night Friday, with a career-high 29 kills. The second-year from Red Deer followed that up with 13 more Saturday.
“Emma Holmes had a ridiculous night (Friday) with kills and we got away from here a little bit in the second set,” Walton said.
“Emma (Letkeman) came in and she threw a couple balls back to Emma and it gave our offence a little kick start. Made their middle blockers pay attention to our right side a little more. That opened up our left side and we were able to score.”
The Queens take on the Olds College Broncos on Nov. 7 and are back at home against the Broncos on Nov. 8.