No short­age of new blood on Rat­tlers men’s vol­ley­ball team

Medicine Hat News - - SPORTS - RYAN MCCRACKEN rm­c­cracken@medicine­hat­ Twit­ter: MHNMcCracken

The Medicine Hat Rat­tlers men’s vol­ley­ball team is tired of wait­ing.

Af­ter a lengthy pre-sea­son sched­ule the Rat­tlers are fi­nally ready to ven­ture into the 2018-19 Al­berta Col­leges Ath­let­ics Con­fer­ence sea­son, and with no short­age of new blood.

“Even though we’ve played a cou­ple of ex­hi­bi­tion games we just want to get started,” said out­side hit­ter Al­fred Dale­vik, whose Rat­tlers open the sea­son tonight in Olds against the Bron­cos. “We’ve got a lot of new guys, but they’re good play­ers. For sure we’re miss­ing some of the rou­tine we would have had the last cou­ple years but skill-wise we’re def­i­nitely where we’ve been be­fore and I’d say we have a higher po­ten­tial this year.”

Rat­tlers head coach Mark Porter says the team ad­dressed a num­ber of ar­eas in the off-sea­son and en­ters the year as a more ath­letic and much big­ger squad at the net.

“Last year’s team I thought was a lit­tle bit slow afoot,” said Porter. “This year we tried to ad­dress that by bring­ing in some big­ger, quicker guys. We’ve brought in quite a few first-years, but we’ve got (right side) Ke­An­dre Evans, who is a freak ath­lete. He touches 11feet, 10-inches. He’ll be the big­gest jumper in this league by far. We’ve got the boy from Fin­land (Ed­vard Nord­lund) who is a very solid de­fen­sive player and a good kill guy.

“We needed to up­grade our left side, es­pe­cially de­fen­sively and re­duce er­rors.”

The Rat­tlers will be bol­stered by re­turn­ing veter­ans Dale­vik, mid­dle Zachary Frank and libero Austyn Ducharme, while thirdyear Av­ery Triggs re­turns to the set­ter po­si­tion, joined this year by Oko­toks’ David Kent Can­jelo and Ser­bia’s Nikola Sreck­ovic. The Rat­tlers parted ways with start­ing set­ter Chad Sieben in the off-sea­son, but for good rea­son.

“He wants to be a doc­tor so he had to make a de­ci­sion, so he went to U of A to work on his pre-med de­gree,” said Porter, adding Can­jelo and Sreck­ovic bring a lot of po­ten­tial to the team.

“Both of our set­ters are ahead of Chad as set­ters at the same time as last year. They’re big­ger, and so hope­fully we’ll be able to get a good block out of them and they’ll be able to dis­trib­ute the ball.”

The Rat­tlers closed out last sea­son with a 13-11 record — good enough for fifth in the South Di­vi­sion — be­fore set­tling for fifth place as hosts of the ACAC cham­pi­onship. They’ll look to start up an­other road to the play­offs tonight in Olds. While the Bron­cos went with­out a vic­tory through 24 matches last sea­son, Dale­vik says they’ll come to the floor as a much more threat­en­ing squad this week­end.

“They’re bet­ter than they’ve been be­fore,” said Dale­vik. “We saw them in pre-sea­son a bit there and they’re def­i­nitely not a team you can go out and just think you’re go­ing to roll over. We’ve got to be on top of our game.”

Medicine Hat and Olds go back at it Satur­day in Olds.

The Rat­tlers will make the trip to Am­brose next Fri­day to take on the Lions be­fore both teams head to the Snake Pit for Medicine Hat’s home opener next Satur­day.

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