Brent Forster - RDC
Red Deer, AB – Friday evening, the Queens received a strong outing from right side hitter Emma Holmes. On Saturday in the Queens' home opener, RDC's Tess Pearman controlled the match from the left side. Led by the second-year's 16 kills, the RDC Queens downed the Ambrose University Lions in three sets (25-19, 25-22 and 25-20), taking the weekend series.
The home victory was memorable for Queens Head Coach Talbot Walton in more ways than one. He was extremely grateful to back on the sidelines coaching after a medical absence.
"I didn't know three or four years ago even if I'd be here and if I'd be healthy enough to recover from that type of surgery. As I gradually got better and went to a couple of practices, I caught the bug again," he says.
"Every time a current or former athlete reached out to me, saying how they missed me around the volleyball court, it just gave me that little bit extra to work a little bit harder and have something to chase after. I definitely wasn't done coaching before I had to step down, and I'm thankful to get the opportunity again."
In the first set, outside hitter Emma Holmes, a Bachelor of Kinesiology student, helped push the RDC Queens ahead 8-3 with a couple of kills and some service pressure. Strong blocking from the Lions reduced the gap to four (9-13). RDC Bachelor of Science Nursing student Erin Neufeldt was effective from the left side and she added an ace, helping the home team to eventually solidify a 25-19 decision.
Ambrose University had an especially good beginning to the second set. Middle Ali Leskow picked up an ace, providing the Lions a 13-10 edge. As the Lions started to inch away, Walton called a timeout which swayed the momentum. RDC rallied and capped off a 25-22 win.
"Emma Holmes had a ridiculous night last night in kills and we got away from her a bit in the second set. We made the sub to put our other setter, Emma, in," says Walton. "She threw a couple balls back to Emma Holmes and gave our offence a kick start and made their middle blockers pay attention to our right side a little bit more. That opened up our left side and we were able to score."
After the Queens led the third set 8-5, the Lions went on an 8-1 run to jump ahead 13-9. Another timeout from Walton started to turn the tides again. Eventually a left side kill from RDC's Tess Pearman knotted the set 13-13. In the latter half, the RDC Queens started to pull away. Fittingly, Pearman, a second-year Bachelor of Education Secondary student, wrapped up a 25-20 decision.
"I thought we played really well. Last night, I thought we had the ability to take control, but we never really put our foot down and made plays back-to-back-to-back. That was the difference tonight - those little strings that we would score in bunches," explains Walton. "Last night we gave up a few more of those strings and tonight we put a stop to them right away. We were very good after the score was at 20. We really played good volleyball for the last five points."
Tess Pearman was selected the Collegiate Sports Medicine Queens Player-of-the-Game, accumulating 16 kills, 10 kills and one ace. Journey Flewell was chosen for the Lions, finishing with 13 digs and one assist.
"If you watch Tess play and move, her physicality is just incredible for our league. We know she has those big games in her and she just maybe hasn't felt comfortable enough to go after it," says Walton. "I thought for a little bit of time last night, she went out with more of a purpose to her game. She continued that tonight and she went off with 16 kills in three sets, which is pretty good for a left side attack."
Emma Holmes had another strong match, totaling 13 kills, nine digs, two aces, one assist and one stuff block. Libero Kaylee Domoney contributed 13 digs and four assists. Setter Kelly Heinemann had 31 assists and Emma Letkeman added five assists.
On Thursday, November 7, the Red Deer College Queens (2-2) will challenge the Olds College Broncos (1-0) on the road at 6:00 p.m.