One of B.C.’s top high school volleyball prospects has opted to keep his talents right at home.
KSS Owls’ senior Eli Risso will join the UBC Okanagan Heat men’s squad for the start of the 2015-16 Canada West season.
The 6-foot-1 Risso doubled as a libero and setter during his final season with the Owls, and was also the starting setter his U18 club team in Kelowna.
In Heat colours, head coach Greg Poitras envisions Risso playing libero.
“His versatility at setter and other roles will be a big asset to our program,” Poitras said of his newest recruit. “(But) we will be looking at Eli in the position of libero going forward.”
A provincial all-star throughout high-school and two-time B.C. AAA boys silver medalist, he comes from a distinguished pedigree. His father, Dave Risso, is a former CIS All-Canadian at the University of Victoria, with professional experience in France to follow afterwards.
The hardworking student athlete is excited to take his school and sport to the next level at UBC Okanagan.
“Playing for the Heat and attending UBC Okanagan has always been a goal of mine,” said Risso. “Not many athletes have the opportunity to play at the highest level in Canadian volleyball and attend a world-class postsecondary institution at the same time, all right in their hometown.”
KSS Owls coach Mike Sodaro is confident that Risso will make a smooth transition to the next step.
“Eli will fight hard for playing time and will be a great asset to UBC Okanagan’s fast improving program,” the coach said. “Whether setting, serving, or playing defense, Eli will work his hardest to achieve goals.”
Eli’s trajectory has been in the works for some time, according to Poitras, who admits to having had the libero to be on his radar for many years. “He is an extremely competitive player who shows the grit we are looking for in players in our program,” Poitras said. “He is a very threatening server and has excellent backcourt skills.”
Risso will likely be playing understudy to Jeremy Fostvelt, who will be entering his fifth and final year with the Heat next season.
In the classroom, Risso will have his eye on a business degree from UBC.