The Red Deer College Queens have the rest of the ACAC women’s volleyball teams right where they want them. Or at least they will in a couple days time as they host the provincial championship Feb. 22-24.
“Sometimes when you go to play at home you get a little distracted trying to play for who is there and making sure you play well for them,” said Head Coach Talbot Walton, about the trials and tribulations of playing in front of the home town crowd filled with family and friends. “But we’ve been working on that and talking about how we’re going to deal with us playing at home and how it’s about what we do together as a group as opposed to who’s here watching.”
Walton said there is also a great amount of comfort being in familiar surroundings and the adrenalin increases when the home crowd gets behind the team.
The first half of the season was a learning curve of sorts for the team.
Veteran player Brooke Sutter said now the Queens are really understanding where their strengths lie and it’s not just one player leading the way.
“With one outside hitter the other team can key on that player but with four or five of us on the court at a time that can really put the ball away so it’s good to have a well rounded team,” she said.
That teamwork was lacking somewhat at the start of the year, and it was very evident as the Queens struggled to win games but now have found their stride and sit on top of the standings.
“I think we’ve always known that we definitely deserve to be there with the team that we have,” she said.
The coach admits there were a few matches which turned out in their favour but those ‘W’s’ could have easily turned into marks in the loss column instead. It was an indication of the talent being at a good enough level to win the close ones but there was more to the turnaround of the team.
“We systematically went at it and worked hard and thankfully that’s where the athletes come into it,” said Walton. “They believe in that commitment and stick with what you’re going to ask them to do and they trust they’re headed in the right direction.”
The coach is also quite pleased with what his charges have been showing him in the second half of the season leading up to provincials.
“We’ve been showing some good depth and some people needing to play well have been playing well all the time.”
Walton added he is impressed with the work his two setters Kirsten Sorensen and Bronwyn Hawkes are having this year and how much those two have contributed to the team success.
“Those two together are just helping our hitters gain confidence because they’re putting the ball in a similar location almost every time. Then the hitter just has to get up there, elevate and take a swing at it.”
The Queens plan to take a big swing at bringing home a championship in front of the crowd which has supported them all year long.
“I’m so excited to have home court advantage and walking past that banner (the ACAC 2013 championship banner) every day into the gym is motivation to keep that banner in our gym,” said Sutter.