In the penultimate weekend of the regular season, the Lions hosted the reigning two-time National Champion Red Deer Kings. Currently sitting in 5th, the Kings need every win they can get to have a chance at making playoffs, while the 6th place Lions have already been eliminated. The Lions honoured seniors Logan Sept (libero), Keaton Strom (leftside), and Nolan Ens (middle) after the game, as it was the team's final game at home this season.
The Lions started the game very strong and held a lead coming up on the final points, 22-18. 3rd year Kings middle Ben Hankins stepped back to the line and orchestrated a 6-1 run, bringing the visiting team to set point before a kill by Kings leftside Ben Holmes (6 kills, 3 digs, 1 block, 1 ace) finished up the set.
Red Deer sat firmly in the driver's seat from this point on, as both teams made a few changes to find more workable lineups. Seniors Nolan Ens and Keaton Strom shared the lead in kills with 6 each, while Strom and Logan Sept led the defense with 6 digs each. After the game, each of the graduating players on the home team shared Player of the Game honours. Red Deer finished the second set 25-14 after a kill from 3rd year rightside Steven Keating out of the back row.
Despite a competitive start to the third set, Red Deer built a sizeable lead in the second half of the set thanks to Ambrose errors and the 6 successful setter dumps by Kings POG Tom Wass. Down 16-24, the Lions' only 5th year player in Keaton Strom got his last kill of the night and stepped back for his final appearance behind the Lions Den service line. Strom held nothing back, unloading on a few balls in front of the home crowd and forcing a Kings timeout after three straight points which included one clean ace. In the end, his fourth serve of the run went wide and ended the game, handing the Kings another straight-set victory over the Lions.
These teams will play again on Sunday night at 6:30 pm, following the women's game. Next weekend the Lions travel to Briercrest to play the Clippers in their last weekend of the season; watch tonight's and next weekend's games live on acactv.ca. Go Lions!