RDC Kings star, Tim Finnigan walked away with the No. 1 individual award at the Alberta Colleges Men’s Volleyball League championship banquet at the I-Hotel Thursday.
But the veteran power hitter has his sights set on celebrating with his teammates at the championships, which open today at 1 p.m. at RDC.
“It’s definitely nice, but in the end I’m looking for that team goal . . . I want us all to be celebrating,” said Finnigan who is on the first All-Conference team and named the ACAC male volleyball player of the year. He will represent the ACAC for the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association player of the year.
“He is well deserving,” said Kings head coach Aaron Schulha, who was named the ACAC coach of the year and is in the running for the CCAA coach of the year award.
“He could well have been the top player last year, but he got the nod this year, which is a reflection on his work over the last two seasons. He’s been a real leader for us and I can’t see anymore deserving than him.”
Being presented with the award at home, and with his parents on hand, made it that much more rewarding. But then playing at home is something Finnigan is looking forward to.
“Not having to go to Fort McMurray (where they won last year) and being at home is definitely an advantage,” he said.
Finnigan is sure the team is ready, but not overly ready.
“We are, but there’s still room for improvement,” he said. “I think we want to peak in a couple of weeks.”
The Kings posted a 17-1 record this season, with the only blemish a 3-1 loss to Grant MacEwan in Edmonton in their final match of the season.
“That was a good character loss,” said Finnigan. “It convinced us we’re not invincible and we need to pick it up. Other teams can compete with us.”
Finnigan will have one year of eligibility remaining after this season, but he’s not thinking of it.
“After the nationals, or the provincials, then I’ll think about it.”
Schulha, like Finnigan, had a lot of people he wanted to share his award with.
“It’s nice, but I was always a believer that this award is a reflection of the work put in by the guys and my assistant coaches,” he said.
“I may be biased, but I feel I have the best assistant coaches in the country and they have been a big part of our success. And it’s impossible to do this without support from home. It’s hard to be a coach’s wife and without her support it would be impossible to do this.”
Former RDC star Nicholas Cundy, who won two CCAA championships with the Kings before moving on to the University of Alberta and the National team, was guest speaker.
“He’s come a long way since we played together,” said Schulha, who was with Cundy at RDC. “He was never a talker, never liked public speaking, but being a super star in our sport for so long, he’s had the opportunity to speak. It was nice to relive some of those memories.”
Kings setter Sam Brisbane was also on the first All-Conference team along with Zac Brown and Marcus Ernewein of Grant MacEwan, Devin Goodvin of Grande Prairie, John Morley of SAIT, Dylan Neufeld of Medicine Hat and Josh Wendel of Briercrest.
Kings Braden O’Toole was a second-team All-Conference player along with Cole McCarthney and Luke Ryan of Augustana, Jordan Matters of Medicine Hat, Matt Fulton of Concordia, Josh Senneker of Briercrest and Savana Walkingbear of Lakeland.
Michael Cepuch of Grande Prairie was the rookie of the year while Ernewein was also an All-Canadian.
The Kings open play at 6 p.m. tonight against the Briercrest Clippers, who will host the CCAA finals in Moose Jaw.
Grande Prairie and SAIT open the tournament at 1 p.m. with NAIT and Grant MacEwan set for 3 p.m. and Augustana and Medicine Hat clashing at 8 p.m.
The semifinals are set for 6 and 8 p.m. Saturday with the final at 3:30 p.m. Sunday.
• The women’s championship is at Grande Prairie and two members of the Queens — power hitters Amber Adolf and Brooke Sutter — were named to the first All-Conference team Thursday.
Three players from Olds — Shael Bourne, Telaina Snider and Dakota Wilson — were on the second team. Elly Wendell of Briercrest was the player of the year.
The Queens face Lakeland College at 3 p.m. today while King’s take on Briercrest at 1 p.m., Olds clashes with Grande Prairie at 6 p.m. and NAIT and GMU meet at 8 p.m.