Kings advance to gold medal match at Nationals, defeat Mariners in 4 sets

Luke Brisbane (4) ran an effective offence in the 4 set victory. Photo - Tony Hansen
Luke Brisbane (4) ran an effective offence in the 4 set victory. Photo - Tony Hansen

While the Red Deer College Kings defeated the Fanshawe Falcons in 3 sets on Thursday, Kings Volleyball Head Coach Aaron Schulha wanted to make a few adjustments in Friday's match against the VIU Mariners. Schulha, one of the premier coaches in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) and Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA), consistently prepares his team well. The preparation and adjustments worked as the RDC Kings defeated the VIU Mariners in 4 sets and advanced to the gold medal match on Saturday. 

After the 1st set was tied 7-7, the RDC Kings began to pull away. The Kings were once again strong at the net and off a stuff block RDC went up by 5 (15-10). The Mariners couldn't catch up and the Kings won 25-19.

In the 2nd set, the RDC Kings used a variety of weapons that threw the Mariners' defence off. Matthew Lofgren picked up some key kills. Regan Fathers and Ty Moorman were positive factors once again. The Kings opened to a quick 7-1 lead and continued to build on it. RDC outscored VIU 18-10 over the remainder of the set and picked up a dominating 25-11 win to go up 2 sets to 0.

After the Mariners jumped out to their largest lead in the 3rd set (10-6), the Kings went on an 11-3 run to pull ahead 17-13. In a close battle, the set went beyond 25 points and VIU eventually picked up the 29-27 win to narrow RDC's lead 2 sets to 1.

In the 4th set, Moorman's stuff block put the RDC Kings up 5-2 in the early stages. Once the Kings went up 14-10, Mariners Head Coach Abe Avender called a time-out. Moorman was effective on both sides of the net and gave the Kings an 18-11 lead with a strong kill. Luke Brisbane put a quick set up the middle and the student-athlete from Penticton hammered the ball down. The RDC Kings did a nice job of erasing any potential momentum that the VIU Mariners could build. Moorman capped off the set 25-19 with another powerful kill. The Kings won the match 3 sets to 1 and advanced to the gold medal game against the Titans de Limoilou. 

The RDC Kings had many contributors in the victory. Fathers accumulated 22 kills, 1 service ace, 4 digs and 2 stuff blocks. Lofgren added 12 kills and Adam Turlejski picked up 7. Moorman had another strong match and contributed 13 kills and 5 stuff blocks. Libero Michael Sumner made some key digs. Brisbane played well and even pulled off a 1 handed set that resulted in a kill in the 3rd. 

Setter Luke Brisbane was named the Kings player-of-the-game. The Bachelor of Commerce student stacked up 51 assists, 2 kills, 11 digs and ran an effective offence. Ryan Evans received the award for the Mariners. Evans finished with 11 kills and 2 digs. 

While Schulha didn't like dropping the 3rd set, he was overall pleased with the effort and the ability to battle.

"We were very solid for about 95% of the match tonight," said Schulha. "We should have been able to win the 3rd set, up 24-20, but it was great to see the guys refocus quickly and get back to work in the 4th."

This year's trip to the CCAA Men's Volleyball National Championship game will be the RDC Kings' 4th in 5 years. Over that span, the Kings earned gold in 2014 and 2016, and a silver medal in 2013. The Titans de Limoilou picked up silver in 2015 and 2016. The Titans' loss in the 2016 finals came at the hands of the Kings.

"Limoilou played very well in their semi-final match and I'm sure they are out for revenge as we beat them in the national finals last year," said Schulha. "They are a well-rounded team and have a couple of guys that can get hot from the service line so we will have to weather that early."

Earlier today, the Medicine Hat College Rattlers swept the Holland Hurricanes in 3 sets, the Fanshawe Falcons edged the Mohawk Mountaineers 3 sets to 2 and the Titans de Limoilou defeated the Camosun Chargers in 3 straight sets. The bronze medal match will be played on Saturday at 6:00 EST. The 2 competing teams for bronze will be decided earlier in the day.  

The Kings will play the Titans de Limoilou for the CCAA Men's Volleyball National Championship on Saturday at 8:00 EST. Catch the action on the CCAA webcast