From RDC Communications
Brent Forster – RDC
The stage has been set for the 2020 Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Women’s Volleyball National Championship. A combination of eight conference champions and wildcard teams have earned the right to compete for national gold from March 12-14 in Quebec City.
After a silver medal performance at the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) Championship on Feb. 29, the RDC Queens have taken time to recharge before they depart east.
“We came off a very emotional weekend and we expended a lot of energy to get to that point,” said Queens Head Coach Talbot Walton. “That preparation from a playing side is more of maintenance, not trying to introduce anything new. Just reinforce the fact that we’re doing things well and see if we can find a way to be just a little bit more efficient.”
The Queens have gained valuable experience already this season, with more learning opportunities on the horizon.
“If we look at the history of the group of athletes that we have now, getting into that [ACAC] final was definitely new territory for us,” said Walton. “I think there were some lessons that we learned in that final, that hopefully from a mindset perspective, prepare us well for the CCAA’s.”
On Mar. 12 the RDC Queens will begin their bid for national gold against the Fanshawe Falcons, the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) Champions.
“When you show up there, you obviously don’t know teams very well,” explained Walton, who coached the Queens to back-to-back national titles in 2014 and 2015. “Sometimes the style of volleyball is quite different from conference to conference, so you have to be very adaptable.”
The Falcons won the OCAA title in back-to-back years. They earned a four set win over the Humber Hawks (25-18, 18-25, 25-18 and 27-25) in this year’s final.
“Humber College used to be the power house that always came out of Ontario,” said Walton. “Fanshawe is a newer program to appear and they had a really good season last year with the majority of their team, I think, returning again this season.”
Eight Falcons are back from last season’s CCAA bronze medal winning team, including two-time OCAA Women’s Volleyball Player of the Year Janelle Albert.
“They have an All-Canadian outside hitter that really hits the ball quite hard,” stated Walton. “From my past experiences, Ontario tends to be a very physical team and usually quite a good size.”
Albert is one of seven Falcons six-feet or taller. In addition to her All-Canadian selection, the third-year from Brampton was named the 2019 CCAA Women’s Volleyball Player of the Year. This year Albert tore up the OCAA offensively, averaging 4.89 kills and 0.67 service aces per set. After the all-star’s contributions, Tarea Heshka (2.00 kills per set), Kiana Lee (1.94) and Lauren Vahrmeyer (1.70) supplement the Falcons’ attack.
The RDC Queens have their own impact players. Left side hitter Tess Pearman (3.10 kills per set), right side Emma Holmes (3.09), outside hitter Erin Neufeldt (2.12) and middle Alexandria Greenshields (1.63) help lead the RDC charge. The ACAC South Rookie of the Year, setter Emma Letkeman, ranked third in the league with 8.64 assists per set. All-Conference libero Kaylee Domoney averaged 3.47 digs per set and has been a stabilizing defensive presence all season.
Before the Queens and Falcons hit the court, the defending national champion Vancouver Island University (VIU) Mariners will face the Lynx d’Édouard-Montpetit, the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) Wildcard, at 1:00 EDT. The Mariners won the Pacific Western Athletic Association (PACWEST) Championship and three of the past four CCAA gold medals.
The host Élans de Garneau, who won the RSEQ title, will play the PACWEST Wildcard Camosun Chargers at 6:00 EDT. The Chargers won CCAA silver in 2017.
Rounding out the opening day, the ACAC Champion Briercrest College Clippers will challenge the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA) gold medal winning Holland Hurricanes at 8:00 EDT.
After some training at Cégep Garneau, the RDC Queens will concentrate on their own game as competition begins.
“We will have an opportunity while we’re in Quebec to have a little bit more structured practice and then one of those brief ones again,” said Walton. “We need to just make sure our game is sound and look after our side.”
The Queens and Falcons will compete at 3:00 pm EDT on Thurs. in the CCAA quarter-final.
The schedule and results can be followed online.