Brent Forster - RDC
The Red Deer College Kings faced the Lethbridge College Kodiaks Friday evening in the RDC Main Gym, and the Kings had several strong performances as they wrapped up a four set home victory.
Not much separated the two teams in the early stages of the first set. Kings middle Adam Turlejski played well at the net once again. A stuff block from the fourth-year Business Administration student gave the RDC Kings a 15-14 edge. Hamish Hazelden, from Esperance, Australia, took control in the latter stages and helped the Kings win 25-20 with several kills down the stretch.
Once the RDC Kings captured a lead in the second set they didn't relent. The Kings pulled ahead early (4-1) with strong net play from Hamish Hazelden and Mark DeWit. Turlejski recorded another stuff block to propel the Kings to a 16-9 lead. RDC outscored Lethbridge College 9-4 the remainder of the way and completed a 25-13 victory.
The RDC Kings trailed in the third set and a kill by Ben Holmes from the left side brought the Kings within 3 points (9-12). When the Kings were down 17-19 Mark DeWit made an incredible play with his foot to keep the play alive and allowed the Kings to score a point. It seemed to spark the Kings momentarily and they took a 22-21 lead but the Kodiaks rallied late and captured the set 25-23.
After the Kings trailed 9-4 in the fourth set, they started to claw back into the match. Turlejski and Hazelden recorded kills, and Parker Biletsky put pressure on the Kodiaks defence with a string of serves. Ben Holmes picked up several kills from the left side and the Kings capped off the fourth set 25-20.
Kings Volleyball Head Coach Aaron Schulha liked the overall play of the Kings. "It was pretty solid match, minus the first ten points of the third set where we dug ourselves a hole. It showed a lot of character in the fourth set to battle back and pull away at the end," said Schulha. "Hamish Hazelden and Ben Holmes were outstanding. Both of those guys had a little bit of swagger to their game today. Ben Hankins and Parker Biletsky also came in and did a really good job." Ben Holmes accumulated 12 kills, 2 assists, 1 service ace, 2 block assists and 5 digs.
Hamish Hazelden was named the player-of-the-game for the Kings. Marcus Biesheuvel earned the award for the Kodiaks. Hazelden, a Kinesiology & Sport Studies student, was a force and contributed 18 kills, 6 digs, 2 stuff blocks and 2 block assists in the win. Biesheuvel finished with 35 assists and 6 digs.
"Hamish Hazelden changes what the other team does from a blocking perspective being such a tall guy with long arms. Dax Whitehead, for them, is a very good player in our league and I thought that Hamish did an effective job neutralizing him for the most part. Whitehead will get his kills, so will Carter Hansen," said Schulha. "I thought that we did a pretty good job of neutralizing the left side attack. Michael Hummel, their middle, played a good match as well. But we wanted to make sure that we were slowing down Whitehead as much as we could and I thought that we did a pretty good job of that. A lot of that had to do with Hamish at the net." Whitehead finished with 8 kills.
The Kings had a strong net presence and many student-athletes contributed. "Our blocking looked pretty solid. Our middles were a bit off offensively and defensively but I thought that our outside blockers did a much better job. Overall I thought the numbers speak for themselves," said Schulha. "We had 5 stuff blocks and 10 block assists after the second set. We were rolling early on and touching them up. That has to do a lot with the service pressure we put on them. In the third set, we let off the gas with our serve and missed a pile. If we can look after our serve and put them into service trouble then it allows our block and defence to go to work."
The fourth place RDC Kings (10-9) will face the third place Lethbridge College Kodiaks (11-6) on Saturday, January 27 at 3:00 p.m.