The saying goes “home is where the heart is” and for the Red Deer College Kings volleyball team, home is also where the ACAC provincial championship is.
“It’s always nice to be in the gym you’ve been training in all year just from a comfort level,” said Kings Head Coach Aaron Schulha. “To be able to stay at home and eat your own food I think comes into play as well.”
In the grand scheme of things though Schulha says the Kings have played well away from the RDC gym but admits being in that facility is still a good edge to have in a playoff run.
“With the home crowd and the comfort level of the gym and being able to do your normal routine is all important for sure and especially not having a travel day does help.”
Schulha says having the crowd on your side can work both ways for a team. When things are going good on the court it’s a real boost which might get in the head of the other team but the flip side to that is when things maybe aren’t going as well and the crowd gets quiet the home team might sit up and take notice.
He did point out that when it gets to this time of the year other teams fans do show up in good numbers as well so it could be a wash when it comes to boisterous fan support.
The Kings go into the tournament with a healthy squad for the first time in a long time. Well, healthy is a relative term when it comes to athletes.
All-Canadian setter Luke Brisbane and middle Adam Turlejski have been injured for the bulk of the second semester with both not really at one hundred per cent but getting closer each day. Schulha says Terleski saw some action earlier this month and wasn’t nearly as explosive as he can be and Brisbane is working through a leg/groin issue which has limited his movement on the court but not enough to keep him out of the lineup.
“Every team has their tweaks here and there and we’ve been a little unlucky with the injury bug but you’re either a deep team or you’re not. We’ve had to battle through some things but I think it will make us stronger.”
Schulha has had to mess around with the chemistry all season long and he admits it has made an impact as the last two of three weekends of league play you would love to be rolling with your starters or who you think they will be come championship time.
He does feel that chemistry shouldn’t be off by much as these players get to work with so many different combinations through a year there likely won’t be too many surprises.
No matter who is on the floor for the Kings Schulha says they will have had some good experience against top quality opponents due to the injuries over the season.
He says this edition of the Kings may not be quite as big and physical as years past so the winning formula is different in some regard.
Looking after the first contact, serving the ball tough enough, cutting down on the errors and they should be fine. He says they’ve been better at that over the last few weekends but it’s even that much more important at championship time.
“Just being fast and athletic, just having a dynamic offence. Our defence has come a long way in terms of blocking and our defence working together over the second semester and that has become a real strength for us,” he said. “We have two very good setters and if we can pass the ball well to give them lots of options we should have a lot of moving parts on offence which makes it really hard for teams to key on certain guys.”
And of course being at home does help.
“If we can’t serve and pass in the gym that we’re training in 90 times during the year then there’s really no excuse.”
The Kings open up against NAIT.