Brent Forster - RDC
Red Deer, AB – It took a little while for the Queens to settle into their first match of 2020, but once they did they rolled to a three set sweep over the Lethbridge College Kodiaks (25-16, 25-17 and 25-12).
Lethbridge College's Mack Lewicki was a significant factor in the early stages of the first set. The third-year left side hitter kept it even (10-10) with three kills. Then the home team gained some traction. Along with a trio of kills from Red Deer's Emma Holmes, strong net play helped RDC pull away. Middle McKenna Olson had three of the Queens' five stuff blocks in the set and Red Deer College earned a 25-16 decision.
"Mo (McKenna) is there for that reason. She is supposed to be that blocker for us," says Queens Head Coach Talbot Walton "She does a really good job. She jumps really well and gets her hands in good spots all the time."
McKenna Olson added four kills, three aces and one dig throughout the match.
"It's always a nervous time when we have that six week break and it's one of those situations where you're like did we do enough work over those six weeks, and did we improve?" says Walton. "I thought that's what happened in the first set, maybe just a little bit out of sorts, but we relaxed really quickly."
Saskatoon's McKenna Olson applied service pressure to begin the second set. With five consecutive serves from the Bachelor of Science Nursing student, the Queens jumped ahead 6-1. The Kodiaks' Morgan Bullerwell recorded a pair of kills, trying to keep the set within striking distance, but Tess Pearman had other ideas. Pearman, a Bachelor of Education Elementary student, fired five kills in the second set alone, while hitting for 0.636 percent efficiency over both sets. RDC wrapped up a 25-17 victory.
After a quick start by the Queens in the third set (7-1), Claire Armstrong helped Lethbridge College chip away at the deficit (4-8). From the left, Erin Neufeldt, a Bachelor of Science Nursing student, propelled the home side up by 11 (18-7). The RDC Queens continued to apply pressure and sealed a 25-12 win, taking the match in three sets.
"We got into the serving and passing game and I think we controlled that part of the match quite well, and that allowed us to run offence," explains Walton. "If we are able to distribute the ball to all of our hitters, we can generate enough offence to beat teams, most of the time."
Ponoka's Tess Pearman was named the Collegiate Sports Medicine Queens Player-of-the-Game, accumulating nine kills, four service aces, three digs and one stuff.
"Before the game, Tess was super loose, bouncing around, dancing, and usually when she's doing that sort of thing you know that she's ready to play. She likes to play relaxed and it was nice to see her doing that – not overthinking the game," says Walton. "She hits the ball with so much spin and heaviness. It's hard to dig because it comes at you pretty quick and she's such a physical presence when it comes to blocking."
Jamie Brown received the award for the Kodiaks. She totaled 19 assists, three aces, two kills, two digs and one stuff block.
Red Deer's Kaylee Domoney was solid, once again, and while quietly going about her business she set a new RDC Queens record with 896 digs.
"Twelve digs in three sets is very good. She controlled that serve-receive game for us. They served the ball in the middle zone and she was standing there quite a bit. She was taking two-thirds of the court which made it easy for our hitters to release to go hit the ball. I was really happy with her performance," says Walton.
"Kaylee is ultra competitive and channels it through her play. From a defensive standpoint she is expanding her range of where she is able to dig. That's what you want a libero to do, pass the ball well and dig everything. She's doing that very well for us."
As a group, the Queens had eight aces and seven stuff blocks.
On Saturday, Jan. 11, the second place Queens (11-2) and Kodiaks (2-11) will hit the RDC court in a rematch at 1:00 pm.