Brent Forster - RDC
Red Deer, AB – The RDC Queens controlled Friday evening's match, for the most part. After a tremendous start, they let their foot off the gas for a bit against the SAIT Trojans. A couple of RDC substitutions in the third set helped ignite the home team to a four set victory (25-18, 23-25, 25-23 and 25-10).
"We started off really well. Then I don't really know what happened," says Queens Head Coach Talbot Walton. "It seems to be a bit of a pattern the last two or three weekends now. Out of four sets, we played two and a half really well."
The Queens applied service pressure early. With a pair of aces from Red Deer's Emma Holmes and singles from Alexandria Greenshields and Emma Letkeman, the home team broke open to a 13-5 lead. The visitors eventually reduced that gap. A pair of kills from both Irina Korovina and Jadyn Leong brought the Trojans within five (16-21), but they couldn't draw even. Eventually a point from Queens' right side hitter Emma Holmes salted away a 25-18 victory.
After a 9-2 RDC run to begin the second set, SAIT clawed back. Contributions from Linnea Brickwood and Jadyn Leong pushed the Trojans up by three (19-16). The teams traded sideouts and SAIT finalized a 25-23 decision.
Two consecutive aces from Jordyn Shewchuk helped provide SAIT a 6-0 cushion to commence the third set. Walton made a few substitutions which included middle McKenna Olson into the match, and she provided a spark. The fourth-year Bachelor of Science Nursing student quickly recorded a kill, dig, ace and stuff block to knot the set 15-15. Not much separated the two squads the remainder of the way and Sydney Rix's kill from the middle sealed a 25-23 Queens' win.
"I thought Mo (McKenna Olson) came in and played really solid for us. Got a couple good touches blocking right off the bat," says Walton.
"Jade Van Dyke came in too and I thought she did a really good job stabilizing our back court. She's very calm and has good energy and that's what the crew needed at that time."
Over two sets, Jade Van Dyke accumulated five digs, four kills and two assists.
RDC held a seven point advantage (15-8) for over half of the fourth set. Strong serving from Sydney Rix (two aces) along with kills from Jade Van Dyke and Erin Neufeldt helped RDC cap off a 25-10 victory, taking the match in four sets. The victory was the Queens' ninth in a row.
Emma Holmes was named the Collegiate Sports Medicine Queens Player-of-the-Game. The second-year Bachelor of Kinesiology student stacked up 17 kills, three aces, two digs and one stuff block.
"The Emma-Emma connection is a pretty good connection. Emma Letkeman loves to set Emma Holmes and she puts it in a good spot and Emma Holmes scores like crazy," says Walton. "She's been carrying a big load for us the whole season and it's well earned tonight – fabulous play."
Setter Emma Letkeman finished with 31 assists, five digs, five kills and three aces.
As a group, the Queens had 13 aces. The Trojans recorded eight.
Walton has noticed a significant upward trend from the Queens since day one.
"From where we started with all of the introduction of a bunch of new ideas and new coaching staff, our improvement has been steady for sure. We had some difficult teams right off the bat, but we got through that," says Walton.
"We are constantly pushing the envelope to get a little bit better, developing the new ideas and strategies, and it's about practicing it enough times that they feel comfortable enough to do it on the floor."
Irina Korovina received the award for the Trojans, totaling eight kills, six digs, two assists and one ace.
The RDC Queens (9-2) will challenge the Trojans (2-10) in Calgary on Saturday at 6:00 p.m.