On Thursday, the Fanshawe College Gymnasium in London, Ontario featured 8 talented teams from across Canada as competition began at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Men's Volleyball National Championship. The Red Deer College Kings faced the host Fanshawe Falcons in the final match of the day. The Falcons were energized early by the large, vocal, home crowd but the Kings displayed a calm demeanour. The RDC Kings were well prepared and ready to compete at the opening serve. Once the Kings got ahead, the Falcons had a difficult time climbing back into the match and RDC picked up an impressive 3 set victory to open the championship.
The opening set was close in the early stages. After the Falcons led 7-5, the Kings went on a 13-7 run to pull ahead 18-14. The Fanshawe Falcons Head Coach Patrick Johnston called a time-out in an attempt to halt RDC's momentum. The RDC Kings continued to push forward and capped off the 1st set 25-22. While difficult to totally shut down Fanshawe's outside hitter James Jackson, the Kings' defence did a solid job of limiting his opportunities to pick up points.
The RDC Kings took an early lead (3-1) in the 2nd set and never relented. Eventually, the Kings extended their lead to a match high 8 points (13-5). Regan Fathers served tough and picked up several service aces. Ty Moorman made a few key blocks for RDC and kept Fanshawe's offence off kilter. The Falcons tried to rally but the Kings were very composed, picked up a 25-21 victory and took a commanding 2 sets to 0 lead.
After the Falcons went up 6-4 in the 3rd set, the Red Deer College Kings outscored the Fanshawe Falcons 11-4 to pull ahead 15-10. Fanshawe called a time-out but it didn't alter RDC's flow. The Kings continued to play well and earned a 25-18 win to claim the match. Very fittingly, Regan Fathers sealed the match with another kill for RDC's 25th point. Ty Moorman was effective at the net and picked up a match total of 5 stuff blocks.
Regan Fathers was a force in the match and was named the Kings player-of-the-game. The Kinesiology and Sport Studies student finished with 14 kills, 1 assist, 5 service aces and 7 digs in the win. Sam Otten was chosen as the Falcons player-of-the-game. Otten picked up 8 kills and 7 digs.
Kings Volleyball Head Coach Aaron Schulha was happy with the effort and result.
"I was fairly pleased with our effort tonight in a tough environment," said Schulha. "The noise may have lost us a couple of points in terms of our players simply not able to hear each other."
Schulha liked the persistence of the Kings.
"At times we seemed a little bit disconnected in terms of our front and back row defence," said Schulha. "But, we were able to grind it out and that's the important thing."
The Kings will make a few adjustments and will shift their focus to the VIU (Vancouver Island University) Mariners on Friday.
"Our left side efficiency wasn't great so we will have to tighten up against a solid VIU team," said Schulha, "The Mariners have a few solid athletes that we will have to slow down. We will prepare our team the same way and make sure that our student-athletes are ready to go."
Earlier on Thursday, the Titans de Limoilou swept the Holland Hurricanes in 3 sets, the Camosun Chargers edged the Medicine Hat College Rattlers 3 sets to 2 and the VIU Mariners defeated the Mohawk Mountaineers in 3 sets.
Friday, the Kings will face the VIU Mariners of the Pacific Western Athletic Association (PACWEST) at 8:00 p.m. EST in the championship semi-final.
The CCAA Men's Volleyball National Championship can be viewed live on the CCAA webcast.