Way back in October Red Deer College Queens volleyball coach Talbot Walton said his team of seven veterans and the rest newbies were not at the level they needed to be at that time of the year.
It was still a team in transition but one which he saw plenty of potential in given the tried and true system the Queens have played under his reign.
“We’re starting to understand and play the systems that this team needs to play to be successful and that’s just being able to not worry about the other team as much right now and focus on siding out the ball and digging the ball,” said Walton.
He says this version of the Queens has been sporadic throughout the year, not quite being able to put all the pieces together to be one of those teams which does that on a consistent basis.
“We’ve been really working at it the last month here to put our emphasis on the things we can really control and I think we’re really on that verge again.”
The timing of this metamorphosis couldn’t be any better. The RDC Queens are the defending National and provincial champions This weekend they will host the ACAC Women’s volleyball championships. Home sweet Home?
“We’ve only lost two games this year at home so from a beneficial standpoint for us to be able to play at home is a real asset,” he said. “We’re really comfortable in our gym and we know what we are capable of doing.”
He says this team knows what they can draw from the home crowd in order to achieve the level of energy needed to be successful.
Walton says all his players have stepped up their games throughout the season at various times, pointing to Whitney Zylstra, Kelsey Tymkow, Miranda Dawe and McKenna Bartel as examples of players finding a second gear late in the season.
So what about the first half of the season? Walton says an injury to Ashley Fehr was a setback and teams like Briercrest, SAIT and Olds College were pumped to play them so they brought their “A” game each time out. He said a potential turning point might have been a contest they won against Olds in mid-November. From then on they have been playing some solid volleyball and are taking control of their destiny.
“We’re headed in the right direction. I don’t think by any means are we doing anything to ourselves except doing the right things.”
The last few games and practices have given the coach reason to be very confident about his charges as they ready themselves for the ACAC Championship weekend.
“We’re really starting to look like were supposed to kind of look for this team,” he said. “I know we’ve changed things from previous years and it has taken a little bit of time to learn the new systems but I think everything looks like it’s starting to click into place.”
He feels there are three or four teams which could come out on top with the Queens being one of those squads. So the home court advantage just might be the trump card when the dust settles.
The Queens finished up in third spot in the South Division and will take on a red hot Grande Prairie team in their first game of provincials Thursday at 6p.m.