Kings 3 Rattlers 1
The Red Deer College Kings didn’t win 11 national men’s college volleyball championships over the years without overcoming a bit of adversity at times.
They won not only because of their starting roster, but their talent on the bench.
This year’s edition of the Kings (5-1, 16-5) is no exception. Earlier this season they lost fifth-year middle Chris Osborn, who left to join the work force, leaving outside hitter Tim Finnigan as the team’s leader on and off the court.
On Saturday afternoon when Finnigan went down in the third set against the Medicine Hat College Rattlers (6-2, 19-7) with a thigh injury, the Kings bench stepped up and never missed a beat as they downed the Rattlers 3-1 (25-23, 15-25, 25-17, 25-18) at RDC.
Rookie right side Scott Irvine out of Lindsay Thurber stepped in and finished with three kills, two stuff blocks and four digs.
“Scott is very athletic with a lot of upside,” said Kings head coach Aaron Schulha.
“His consistency hasn’t been there yet, but when Tim went down Scott showed what he can do.”
As did the rest of the team. They didn’t letdown one bit.
“There was some concern about that, but they (Rattlers) missed a lot of serves which helped us build some momentum,” said Schulha. “We also got our middles involved more which spread things out a bit.”
Rookie middle Adam Turlejski of Melbourne, Australia, was especially strong in the fourth set, accumulating four of his five kills and three stuff blocks.
The win gave the Kings a weekend sweep of their ACAC doubleheader against the Rattlers, 6-2, who came in ranked second in Canada, behind RDC.
“They’re a very talented team, but made a lot of errors, which you see from an aggressive team,” added Schulha.
The Rattlers missed 28 serves over the four sets while RDC missed 10.
Anthony Finnigan had a solid match and was named the RDC player of the game with seven kills and five digs. Tim Finnigan had five kills before leaving while Kashtin De Souza had two kills and eight digs. Libero Pat McIntyre had eight digs.
Isak Helland-Hansen had 15 kills for MHC while Red Deer native, and setter, Aaron Pierick had a kill, one block, an ace and 11 digs.
The Kings face Ambrose College (2-4, 7-13) and Olds (0-6, 1-18) over the next two weeks, which should give them a chance to get healthy. Besides Tim Finnigan, Tanner Rehn is out with a concussion and backup setter Tegan McGraw had a shin problem.
Queens 3 Rattlers 0
RDC Queens head coach Talbot Walton didn’t have the injuries, but was able to use a large portion of his bench in a 3-0 (25-19, 25-12, 25-22) victory over the Rattlers.
“We had some people who needed to play,” he said.
“They have been showing good progress the last couple of weeks, and demonstrated at practice they can play at a high level.
“This was a bit of an opportunity for them to get rid of some nerves and trust themselves, realizing their skill level is good enough.”
Backup setter Ashley Fehr played the complete match and was named the player of the game with three kills, an ace, two blocks and five digs. She also did a great job of spreading the ball around. She consistently got middle Megan Schmidt involved in the offence, which was something Walton was glad to see.
“Megan did some things we’ve been looking for her to try to do,” said Walton.
“The same with Miranda (Dawe).
“The abilities of those three are high; they just needed some confidence to try some things.”
Lauren Marshall, a first-year power hitter out of Calgary, came on in the second set and finished with six kills and two digs.
Dawe led the Queens with 13 kills, an ace and nine digs while Schmidt had 12 kills, two blocks and a dig. Kelsey Tymkow finished with four kills, four aces and seven digs.
Sarah Burris had 13 kills and five digs for MHC.