Kings 3 Trojans 1
Few first place teams are looking forward to a Christmas break more than the Red Deer College Kings men’s volleyball team.
Despite a swath of injuries the Kings have rolled up an 11-1 (34-10) record thanks to a 3-1 (19-25, 25-21, 25-11, 25-11) win over the SAIT Trojans (7-5; 24-17) on Tuesday in Red Deer. They enter the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference break as the No. 1 ranked team in the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association, an accomplishment also accomplished by the RDC Queens women’s volleyball team.
“I’m pleased with our record based on how many injuries we’ve had and the stuff we’ve battled through in the first half,” said Kings head coach Aaron Schulha. “I can’t remember a semester like this where guys have been down and out. We’ve had all three of our outside hitters down for a significant amount of time and we haven’t had a second setter to speak of. We’ve battled through a lot of things and I think that will make us tougher in the second half.”
The Kings’ mark looked to be in jeopardy early on Tuesday after looking out of synch and trailing 1-0 in sets while struggling to gain any momentum. They eked out an 18-15 lead as SAIT called a time out and RDC never looked back taking the set 25-21 then the final two sets 25-11 each.
“We had a bunch of things go wrong in the first, it was pretty ugly,” said Walton. “When you don’t serve or pass the ball (well) it makes things difficult and we had no one to really step up in that first game.”
All-Canadian outside hitter Tim Finnigan lead the Kings with 17 kills and six digs, while Scott Irvine had 13 kills, five digs and Justin Lukacs had 10 kills and three digs. Rookie setter Luke Brisbane continued to impress with 47 assists, three service aces and five digs.
The Kings have been with out incumbent starting setter Tegan McGraw while the Finnigan brothers — Tim and Anthony — have also been banged up most of the semester. Anthony finally returned to play on Saturday, but he left eight points into Tuesday’s match after aggravating a knee injury originally suffered in practice on Monday.
“(Anthony) and Tim are both playing at about 70 per cent at best,” said Schulha.
The Kings are off for most of December, returning to the court to train at MacEwan University in Edmonton before the New Year and then heading to Camrose for a tournament at Augustana University the following week — the site of this season’s ACAC championship.
“Since we went to a North/South alignment this year, it’s good for our guys to play there and see some teams from the north and hopefully get used to being there, because I plan to be there in a couple of months,” said Schulha.
Queens 3 Trojans 0
The RDC Queens went into the ACAC Christmas break looking like the defending national championship they are.
They completed their weather delayed sweep over the SAIT Trojans on Tuesday with a 3-0 (25-21, 25-17, 25-20) win, struggling early and then rolling through the last two sets.
“I’ glad it’s done and to put those ones in the books and be happy we are where we are and have played as well as we have,” said Queens head coach Talbot Walton.
“Our learning curve has been pretty steep so far and we can tell we’re a little bit tired and want to have a little bit of a rest. That’s a good thing because it tells me they’re full, they full understand what we need to do right now; they just need some time to digest it in their heads and that break will set us up well to do that.”
The Queens trailed 19-16 in the first set when Walton called a time out, and RDC rolled to nine of the next 11 points to win the opening set. The next two sets were never really in question.
“Sometimes you get in those games where it’s back and forth and teams go on small little runs,” said Walton. “As long as you don’t panic too much and keep it close to that 20 (-point mark), we always feel we’re pretty good after those 18-20 points and that’s what it was tonight in that first set.”
Miranda Dawe led the Queens with 11 kills and five digs, Leah Koot had seven kills and 11 digs, setter Bronwyn Hawkes had 31 assists while star libero Maddi Quinn had 22 digs.
The Queens are off for most of the break. They will be hosting a team from Japan from Dec. 12-16 as they train along side each other and then will be heading to Edmonton for a tournament before the start of second semester.