They never got a chance for a three-peat.
But it’s clear the Vernon Christian School Royals would have been considered a near-lock to win a third straight B.C. High School Boys A Division Volleyball Championship. No high school volleyball was played in the fall of 2020 due to COVID-19.
The Royals have four athletes named in the 12th annual list of the top-15 graduating high school boys players in the province in a poll conducted by the website varsityletters.ca, operated by veteran B.C. high school and college reporter Howard Tsumura of North Delta.
That’s twice as many as any other school in a poll that includes players from all three boys’ divisions – A, AA and AAA. Two AAA schools – Mt. Boucherie of West Kelowna and Oak Bay of Victoria – each had two players named to the list.
“It’s super disappointing not to have had a season and a chance to go for three straight provincial titles,” said Royals co-coach Dwayne Remple.
Leading the list at No. 1 is Remple’s son, Liam, a six-foot-eight outside hitter/middle blocker. Liam Remple garnered 60 total points in the poll – voting was done by the four head coaches of B.C.’s men’s university teams in the Canada West conference of U-SPORTS – four more than six-foot-six outside hitter Hunter Arulpragasam of the MEI Eagles of Abbotsford.
Remple has committed to U-SPORTS volleyball powerhouse Trinity Western Spartans of Langley, the reigning Canadian champions.
“I just enjoy playing volleyball, so any second I can have playing the game I love is a second well-spent,” Remple told Tsumura in an article on varsityletters.ca. Remple is also a member of the Canadian youth team.
Joining him on the list are teammates Levi VanderDeen (No. 4, matching his uniform number), a six-foot-five outside hitter who has committed to the UBC Okanagan Heat; six-foot-two setter Jacob Defeo (Tied for 11th, no post-secondary commitment as of yet); and middle blocker Josh Hall, six-foot-five (No. 15, Thompson Rivers University).
“We are very fortunate to have a group of boys that are genetically tall athletes,” said Dwayne Remple. The quartet has been together since Grade 6, and have helped the Royals reach the last three provincial A championship games (lost in 2017 to Credo Christian of Langley).
In 2019, the Royals placed two players on the top-15 list: Ben Molitwenik (No. 8, UBCO) and Devin Hofsink (No. 9, Trinity Western).
Prior to winning the 2019 provincial title, Vernon Christian’s major accomplishment that season was winning the Best of the West Tournament in Kelowna, beating AAA schools Kelowna Secondary (semifinal) and MEI Eagles (final) without losing a set.
Also named to the boys’ list was six-foot-four outside hitter Austin Duff of Lake Country’s George Elliot Secondary (T-7th, UBCO), Kaylin Michie, six-foot-10 middle blocker (No. 9, UBCO) and Alex Witt, five-foot-11 outside hitter/libero (T-13, Columbia Bible College) of West Kelowna’s Mt. Boucherie Secondary.
Quinn Pitcher, a six-foot-two outside hitter from Kelowna’s Okanagan Mission Secondary, was given honourable mention.
The highest-ranked Okanagan player on the top-15 girls’ list is six-foot middle blocker Anya Pemberton of the reigning B.C. 4A champion Kelowna Secondary Owls, rated No. 3. She’ll play beach volleyball at Arizona State University. Her Owls teammate, Leix Prefontaine, a five-foot-10 setter (N0. 13, UBCO) also made the grade. Madison Shanks of KSS, a six-foot outside hitter, was given honourable mention.
There are four divisions of girls volleyball in B.C., A, AA, AAA and 4A. The coaches of B.C.’s five women’s university teams cast ballots.
Chloe Ladd of AA school George Elliot, a five-foot-10 libero/outside hitter, comes in at No. 6. She’ll play at Toronto’s York University next season. Ladd helped the Coyotes win bronze at the B.C. championships in 2019.
Olivia Tymkiw from Coldstream’s Kalamalka Secondary, a six-foot outside hitter who will play at UBCO, was rated No. 7. The Lakers hosted the 2019 provincial AA finals, finishing seventh.
Vernon’s Madison Gardner, a six-foot-two middle blocker, was ranked ninth. Gardner and her Seaton Sonics finished fourth at the B.C. AAA finals in 2019.
The top-rated graduating player in B.C. for girls is Emoni Bush, a six-foot-three outside hitter who has committed to the Washington Huskies of the NCAA in Seattle. Bush and her Carihi Tyees of Campbell River lost the 2019 B.C. AAA final to Vancouver’s Little Flower Academy.