Brent Forster - RDC
Red Deer, AB – The RDC Kings had a well-rounded effort from a variety of weapons, earning a three set sweep (25-14, 25-17 and 25-16) over the visiting Ambrose University Lions at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.
After a strong match on Friday, Regan Fathers was at it again 24 hours later on the Kings' home court, and was supported by the entire team. In the first set, a kill from the right by the Kinesiology student provided the Kings a six point cushion (17-11). A strong offensive presence from the Lions' Mark Fountain (4 kills) tried to keep his squad close. The RDC Kings went on an 8-3 run, assisted by a pair of points from Tristan Simmonds, finalizing a 25-14 win.
Regan Fathers (1) Colby Brochu Photography
It was a close contest throughout the first half of the second set. A kill from Adrian Strandberg pulled Ambrose within a point (11-12). Eventually, strong net play from the Kings helped them jump ahead by six (20-14). Both Thomas Wass and Mark DeWit recorded stuff blocks. RDC outscored Ambrose 5-3 for a 25-17 victory.
Mark DeWit (8) Colby Brochu Photography
The third set was even 8-8 until contributions from Ben Holmes, Regan Fathers and an ace from Paul Mennie (13-9) provided the Kings with energy. Adrian Strandberg was effective for the Lions once again, recording another kill, trying to will his side back into the set but Regan Fathers was unstoppable near the end, helping the Kings solidify a 25-16 score, and match decision.
Tristan Simmonds was named the Kings Player-of-the-Game, finishing with an impressive 10 kills and 6 digs. Mark Fountain received the award for the Lions, contributing 8 kills, 7 digs and 1 ace.
Kings Head Coach Aaron Schulha appreciated the play from the fifth-year power hitter. "I liked pretty much everything about Tristan. He played pretty confidently after he settled in on the receive end of things. He is a very athletic guy and he adds a different energy. There's a few different guys that we need to pull that out of, but it is a different dynamic when we have those energy type players on the floor," says Schulha. "Tristan has taken some time to figure things out with us because he is used to being a really high volume guy at Grande Prairie College. With guys like Regan and Ben, and our middles, Tristan will get a little less volume and he has to do other things really well. He is grasping that and I think will run with it. It's nice to have some options out there."
Colby Brochu Photography
"We did a good job of bettering the ball and making smart attack choices, and still allowed ourselves to make a play on defence which was important to build a rhythm, and get going in the right direction," says Schulha. "Regan was good right from the get-go and especially from the service line which had been lacking, at times. That was a big step for him. Regan can be a game changer and has been playing smarter volleyball."
After the Christmas break and tournament, the Kings have taken several positive steps forward. "It's nice to be able to show our depth against a pretty quality team. Ambrose can play at a high level and are well coached. They were going after their serve today and I thought that we were able to settle in," says Schulha. "We talked the past three matches about being better teammates and building each other up, and bettering the ball if the guy in front of you doesn't have a great contact. As a team, we have been doing that."
Colby Brochu Photography
A familiar face in Ryan Beatson was added again to the Kings' roster, providing energy and veteran leadership for the second half of the season. Middle Adam Turlejski watched from the sidelines, nursing an injury.
"We will have Turk (Turlejski) back for one match next weekend. Our middles have been a strong point for us, with a really competitive group," says Schulha. "I am looking forward to what practice is going to look like when we are completely healthy. It is an exciting time and I like the way that we are projecting in the next little while."
With the win, the Kings share second spot in the south with the SAIT Trojans (10-4).
Next weekend, the RDC Kings (10-4) will play the Olds College Broncos (0-14) in a home-and-home series. On Saturday, January 12, the Kings will host the Broncos at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre at 8:00 p.m.