Brent Forster – RDC
Red Deer, AB – A complete effort from a composed Queens Volleyball team helped them sweep the Medicine Hat College Rattlers in straight sets (25-21, 25-22 and 25-15) at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.
Queens Head Coach Chris Wandler felt that a productive week of training helped set the tone for one of their best matches in the early stages of the season. "It's been a week of a lot of growth and putting our noses to the grindstone, and getting back to work," he says. "Credit to the girls. They really took our words to heart and they did a lot of good things this week in practice that led to the result."
After a back-and-forth beginning to the first set, the Queens started to push ahead. In one lengthy series, RDC setter Natalie Bloemen made two exceptional digs to keep the play alive and the Queens' blockers forced the Rattlers to hit long, giving RDC an 11-9 edge. Then, Sydney Rix applied some service pressure and provided the Queens a 5 point margin (14-9). The Red Deer College Queens held off a late charge from the Rattlers and a solid block from Katrina Dawe helped her squad capture a 25-21 win.
Medicine Hat College looked to rebound in the second set and opened on a 4-1 run. Strong play from Britt Davis at the net and Emma Holmes on the right side drew the Queens even 8-8. Then, Natalie Bloemen effectively connected with Jade Van Dyke on the left side and the duo expanded the Queens' lead to 5 points (21-16). Medicine Hat College reduced the gap to 3 points but the Queens earned a 25-22 decision.
Setter Natalie Bloemen (5) Colby Brochu Photography
The Queens were energized early in the third and jumped ahead 8-3 from a Britt Davis stuff block. Alexandria Greenshields and Natalie Bloemen had a series of impenetrable blocks on the right side, helping RDC maintain their 5 point edge (17-12). Then, Sydney Rix completed a 25-15 victory off the Rattlers' block and out, and the RDC Queens salted away an impressive three set sweep.
Wandler appreciated the Queens' abilities to focus on the sequence at hand. "We finally played a full match from a group who really wanted it bad," he says. "It was about consistency - being involved in the moment and when you do that, you string some good plays and points together."
Britt Davis (7) Colby Brochu Photography
In the first and second sets, the Rattlers applied some pressure late but the RDC Queens were resilient. "There was no give in. We talk about forward volleyball. Playing forward, looking forward," says Wandler. "Regardless of whether it is a positive point or a negative point, we are always trying to figure out how we are going to execute the next one. That was the key for us with the better mindset."
Emma Holmes was named the Queens Player-of-the-Game and Jennifer Saj was recognized for the Rattlers. Saj accumulated 24 assists, 8 digs and 4 kills.
"I've liked Emma's game all year. We need more Emma," says Wandler. "Natalie is starting to feel more comfortable setting her and Emma is really leading the team in that piece which is taking some stress off others, and she's capable of doing that. She had 12 kills tonight and is doing very well."
Colby Brochu Photography
Along with 12 kills, Holmes, a five-foot-ten outside hitter from Red Deer, contributed 1 ace, 6 digs and 2 block assists. Natalie Bloemen recorded 38 assists, 3 digs and 1 kill, and spread out the ball to a variety of targets. Britt Davis had 9 kills, Jade Van Dyke totaled 8, Alexandria Greenshields picked up 6 and Sydney Rix contributed 5.
In a rematch, the RDC Queens (2-5) will host the Medicine Hat College Rattlers (3-2) on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.
RDC Golf team celebrated after match
At the conclusion of the Queens' victory, the RDC Golf team was recognized for its outstanding season which included the Queens winning the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Women's Golf National Championship in Medicine Hat.