Brent Forster - RDC
Red Deer, AB - The Red Deer College Kings began 2020 the same way they completed 2019, with a victory.
The Kings started to really find their groove at the tail end of 2019, handily defeating the SAIT Trojans in back-to-back matches. That consistent effort was on display in the first match of the new year against a tough opponent, the south leading Lethbridge College Kodiaks. The RDC Kings persevered and downed the visitors in straight sets (25-22, 25-20 and 25-18).
"Beating a team like that 3-0, you have to be pleased with most things. I was really impressed with our first contacts," says Kings Head Coach Aaron Schulha in his return to the sidelines. "Our serve and receive was really good. They are a good serving team, especially their two spin servers."
Beyond the Kings' three service aces, they kept the Kodiaks' defence on alert.
"I thought it was fairly clean. I thought in all three sets we made a pretty steady push in the middle of the game, which was kind of the difference," says Schulha. "In the first set in particular, it looked like two really good teams going back-and-forth for the first eight to ten points and then we kind of pulled away a little bit and allowed them back at the end."
Tony Albizzati led the Lethbridge College offence with eight kills. Carter Hansen and Quinn Buchanan contributed six kills each. Setter Zach Wikenheiser totaled 24 assists and four digs.
Carter Hills was the named the Collegiate Sports Medicine Kings Player-of-the-Game. The six-foot-two outside hitter racked up a match leading 12 kills, along with seven digs, one stuff and one assist.
"Carter is a gamer for sure. He has progressed immensely since the start. He was a Team Alberta kid when we were recruiting and we knew that he had some high upside. He is playing like a veteran and has a really quick arm," says Schulha.
"There's a few sets I thought were a little bit fast through the zone from Tom today, but Carter's pretty flexible and has a lot of pace with that quick arm, and can put teams in trouble. He can hit multiple angles and his serve was awesome tonight. He's a guy that can really get hot from the line and we need that moving forward."
Malcolm Fisher had four digs and picked up the award for the visitors.
Ben Holmes added seven kills for the Kings. Cody Boulding picked up six. Setter Thomas Wass had 25 assists, two kills, one ace, one dig and one stuff. Patrik Toze was effective at the net. The Bachelor of Kinesiology student totaled five stuff blocks, four kills, one dig, one assist and one ace.
"Pat was steady. Ben made some different shots and put the ball away here and there," says Schulha. "I think that we have to get our middles more involved tomorrow and try to keep our first contacts at that same level, if not a step above. In the first semester I watched a lot of video and our middles got a ton of volume and they didn't get as much volume today, I don't think."
The Kings, Kodiaks and Trojans (10-4) are tied for top spot in the south with 20 points, although SAIT has played one more match.
In the second half of the double header, the RDC Kings (10-3) will entertain the Kodiaks (10-3) on Saturday, Jan. 11 at 3:00 pm.
"There were a few things, game plan wise, that we didn't execute all of the time that we will have to tighten up for tomorrow," says Schulha. "They will be better tomorrow, we are expecting that."