Red Deer, AB – In a match that featured several swings in momentum, the RDC Kings were eventually shaded in five sets (25-19, 23-25, 25-16, 28-30 and 13-15) by the Medicine Hat College Rattlers at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.
Kings Head Coach Aaron Schulha felt his team's inconsistency was costly. "We didn't put enough service pressure on them late," he says. "The Rattlers picked it up when it mattered the most and we made a few too many errors passing and serving."
The Kings captured an early lead. With contributions from Adam Turlejski down the middle and back-to-back points from Tristan Simmonds on the left side, the Kings jumped ahead 10-7. Then, a Thomas Wass dump ball and a kill from Mark DeWit down the middle expanded the margin. Eventually, the Kings finalized a 25-19 decision.
In a tight second set, several kills by Regan Fathers from the right side along with an ace propelled RDC ahead 15-11. Not wanting to go down a pair of sets, the Rattlers clawed back and took it 25-23.
After the Rattlers snuck an early edge (6-4), a string of effective spin serves from Regan Fathers and a left side kill from Ben Holmes put the Kings on a 7-1 run (11-7). Then, contributions from Mark DeWit down the middle, and Ben Holmes once again gave RDC a 7 point advantage (18-11). Fittingly, Ben Holmes completed a 25-16 win with a powerful kill down the middle.
The fourth set was even 9-9 until the Kings went on a 6-3 run. That stretch included stuff blocks from Tristan Simmonds and Adam Turlejski which put the RDC Kings up 15-12. Then, the Rattlers drew even and pushed the Kings beyond 25 points. Despite Ben Holmes and Jonathan (JJ) Graham contributing from the left and Regan Fathers from the right, the Rattlers edged the Kings 30-28.
When not much separated the teams in the fifth, Adam Turlejski had a well-placed kill in the back corner to give his Kings a 6-5 edge. The Rattlers pushed back and eventually sealed a close 15-13 win to take the match.
Regan Fathers was selected as the Kings Player-of-the-Game and Nikola Sreckovic was recognized for the Rattlers. Fathers was dominant, securing 31 kills, 3 service aces, 5 digs and 2 block assists. Sekrovic totaled 41 assists, 1 ace, 2 digs and 1 kill.
"We failed to be aggressive at the end, excluding Regan who had a great match. He was really smooth," says Schulha. "He got a ton of volume in terms of 31 kills and only 7 errors, hitting for 50 per cent efficiency which is impressive. He is capable of doing that but we don't want to wear him down either. That speaks to his abilities but also speaks to our weaknesses in other spots."
In the rematch on Saturday, Schulha wants to see the Kings keep their foot on the gas. "I will encourage the guys to stay aggressive. On defence, we've really been preaching to not let anything hit the floor without going after it. We had a few of those late as well," he says. "The Rattlers scored way too many tips over the block and our position two. It can't happen whether it is our curl under guy or it's our position one defender. They were going after everything late and it showed. They probably deserved it more than we did at the end because they put in more effort."
Ben Holmes recorded 15 kills and Tristan Simmonds had 9. Setter Thomas Wass totaled 52 assists.
On Saturday, the Kings (3-4) and Rattlers (5-0) will face each other at 3:00 p.m. at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.