The Red Deer College Queens volleyball team took their place on top of the ACAC provincial throne for the second year in a row after this past weekend’s victory over the Grande Prairie Wolves.
The weekend’s big win means head coach Talbot Walton and his team of 16 will be returning to nationals. Along with the RDC Kings volleyball team, the Queens will be heading back to the CCAA tournaments as the 2014 national champions after both teams brought home national banners last year.
Despite the 3-0 win for the Queens, Walton explained the game didn’t go as they had planned.
The first of the three sets played saw the Queens down 11-1 and again later in the set down 20-15. After a quick timeout called by Walton to break the momentum and substitutions picked up the pace in serving, they came back from their former deficit to take the win.
“The same thing happened in the second set – we were down 4-0 and again later in the game 20-16,” explained Talbot. “Both of those sets were late in the game and we were very far behind but we hung on just long enough.
“We had our opportunity to keep playing steady and turn it on – so we did and we closed down those gaps so it was tied around that 22/23 mark and again we won.”
Walton stated it was this fight to come back in both sets which set the playing field for the third set.
“We finally just got to a point where we started to play our style of volleyball,” said Walton. “I think that last game was very reflective of how we’ve been training over the last month.
“Although it was a little nerve-wracking and stressful from a coach’s perspective I was just super proud that they hung in there and kept playing at a steady rate and showed that we are a consistently strong team.”
Player of the game went to third year Queens’ middle Megan Schimdt who used her height of 5’11” to land her eight kills and two blocks.
Walton explained Schmidt’s provincial final game as the one both he and she will remember as a testament of her time spent with the team stating the ‘player of the game’ highlight spoke volumes of how well she played.
“No one else on either team was able to generate anymore than five kills but nearly every time we gave her the ball and the opportunity to score she definitely put it away,” said Walton. “She not only played well but she showed great leadership and veteran experience.”
The Queens will head to the national championships from March 12th-14th in Longeull, Quebec and hope to again bring home a national banner.
“It’s always a different kind of tournament that’s for sure because you are playing teams from different conferences that you’ve never seen play,” said Walton. “So it’s more or less just about being as prepared as we can be and going in and hopefully playing our best level of volleyball of the year.”
The Kings volleyball team as well took part in their respective ACAC conference championships over the weekend where they took on the Augustana Vikings on their rival’s home court in Camrose.
Coach Aaron Schulha called the game a, “Heart breaking five set loss” for the Kings in which the team lost 3-2.
“We new it would be tough going into the game,” said Schulha. “But I thought our team was playing at a very high level throughout the tournament especially in the semi-final game.”
Prior to their loss in the final game against the Vikings, the Kings brought home a big win against NAIT Ooks in the semi- finals with consecutive set scores of 25-22, 25-16, and 25-12.
“We knew it would be hard playing the host in their own gym,” explained Schulha. “Their fans were pretty incredible and it’s nice to have that on your side.”
Schulha explained the Kings were up 2-1 going into the fourth set but unfortunately made too many mistakes late in the game
“So going into the fifth I felt we had all the momentum and we were up 4-0 at the start of the fifth but Augustana just kept chipping away,” explained the coach. “Then we were up 8-6 going into the switch and a quick error left it at 8-7.
“They just kept chipping away on us and the more they chipped away the more into it their fans got and they ended up winning 15-13.”
Player of the game went to Kings’ outside hitter Tim Finnigan after scoring the match high of 27 kills.
Schulha stated he would expect nothing less from the third year player.
“He’s still not 100 per cent and is actually dealing with an eye infection right now to go along with his quad strain,” said the coach. “So for him to put up big numbers like that when he’s not at 100 per cent says a lot about what type of athlete he is and how much he tends to thrive under pressure.”
Although the Kings took silver for their conference, they will be returning to nationals for a second year in a row where they hope to claim a consecutive CCAA championship.
The Kings will be heading to PEI in two weeks for the national tournament.