By Ryan McCracken on October 12, 2018.
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 11-feet, 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.”
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The Rattlers will be bolstered by returning veterans Dalevik, middle Zachary Frank and libero Austyn Ducharme, while third-year 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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