Red Deer Polytechnic Queens volleyball were all smiles Saturday evening after sweeping their weekend series.
The pair of wins against their rival Olds College Broncos couldn’t have come at a better time as they improve to 10-7 on the season.
On their homecourt, the Queens won in three straight sets knocking off the Broncos 25-14, 25-20, and 25-10. The pair of weekend victories helped propel Red Deer into fourth place in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) South Division.
Head coach Talbot Walton said stringing a pair of wins together is just what the doctor ordered.
“We’re getting closer to the conference championship weekend. So needing to get that winning mentality and that championship mindset like we did tonight was really good,” he said.
“We earned a lot of our points tonight. They gave us quite a few errors but we still found ways to score around 15 points per game which is really high considering how the scores ended up in that match.”
With just two games left in the regular season next weekend against NAIT and Northwestern Polytechnic, the Queens are preparing to host the ACAC Championship on their homecourt on Feb. 23-25.
Walton explained building momentum into championship weekend is critical. Last season the Queens won the ACAC Championship after an undefeated record.
This year they came in with a younger team but their ambitions didn’t change. Talbot said at the beginning of the season they set a goal to play their best volleyball by mid-February and believe they’re on track.
“We’re really close… We’ve still got to work out a few little things. Jaiden Ferguson’s been out a few days with a sore back so obviously, we’ve had to tweak our lineup with her not there,” he said.
Talbot added having everyone on the same page and gaining more experience on the floor will be important these next two weeks.
“They’ve been working so hard all year and the only way to really gauge that improvement is to put them in those situations,” he said.
Third-year outside hitter Vanessa Loos earned player of the game honours after a seven-service ace performance. She also had five kills and nine digs.
Loos said Saturday night was an improvement in terms of their serving after they missed a few on Friday.
“I think we knew that coming into this game that we needed to serve hard. I think that was a big part of our game I mean I think Sydney [Rix] got three aces herself, Morgan got an ace. That earned us a lot of points,” she said.
Loos added the defensive aspect of the game is her strong suit and was happy with how she performed.
“That serving aspect was really on for me tonight so that was good to see too,” she said.
The team, she explained, is grateful to get the opportunity to play in the ACAC Championships on their home floor at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.
The Queens have won 20 provincial gold medals, including eight in a row from 1982-1989. The tournament will feature the top four teams from both the north and south divisions as well as the Queens.
The winner will advance to the CCAA National Women’s Volleyball Championships in Nanaimo, B.C., from March 8-11, 2023.
The final two matches of the season next weekend heading into playoffs will be home games, which Loos said will be ideal in their preparation.
“The home court, the home fans, it’s all good energy,” she said. “We’ll have a few weeks here to train hard like we usually do and it should be good. We’re looking forward to it.”
“We feel lucky to be able to go and do these provincials because not all teams are able to do that. I think just holding it while it’s here and living in the moment.
“It’s going to be fun.”
In the men’s game, the Kings were upset by their Central Alberta rival.
RDP was riding a 14-match win streak and sat second in the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association rankings heading into Saturday. The Kings also swept the Broncos in three sets Friday.
The Broncos paid no mind to the hype, knocking off the Kings in a five-set thriller (25-23, 21-25, 25-23, 12-25, 15-13).
Olds College got the victory thanks to a balanced attack, as just Aidyn Phillips and Matheus Franca had double-digit kills. Broncos outside hitter Strahinja Lazarevic had a match-high six stuff blocks, along with six kills and an ace.
Noah Carlson of Sylvan Lake led the Kings with 13 kills and five stuff blocks. Red Deer’s Colby Nemeth had 12 kills, Brett Lower had 11, Nicholas Possingham had 10 and Spencer Purdie chipped in eight.