Vernon’s Troy Atkinson (from left)

Vernon’s Troy Atkinson (from left)

Trio lifts B.C. sides

Three volleyball stars from two schools represented B.C. at national volleyball championships in Edmonton this summer.

Red Sox-Yankees. Canadiens-Maple Leafs. Maroons-Sonics.

The latter may not have the lengthy history of the two other rivalries, but competition in senior boys volleyball between Vernon’s Fulton and Seaton schools can be fierce.

Look for that intensity to ramp up this fall, courtesy of three stars from the two schools who represented B.C. at national volleyball championships in Edmonton this summer.

Seaton’s Troy Atkinson and Fulton’s Danny Aspenlieder were members of the provincial U18 team, while Landon Currie of Fulton played for Team B.C.’s U16 squad.

“I’m going to bring the intensity from the tournament over to the school team and try and lift our school team,” said Atkinson, 17, a 6-foot-5 Grade 12 left-side hitter.

“I think there will be high expectations for Landon and me, and we’re going to be counted on to be leaders on the floors,” said Aspenlieder, 17, 6-foot-6 and a Grade 12 right-side hitter.

Added Currie, a Grade 11, 5-foot-9 setter, right-side hitter and libero: “Playing on the provincial team is going to motivate us to make the other kids do well.”

The trio earned their provincial team spots following intense workouts.

Aspenlieder and Atkinson survived a month-long audition in the Lower Mainland and Okanagan, while Currie was named to the team following his play at a tournament in Kamloops.

“The competition for a spot on the team was intense,” said Atkinson. “There were lots of older players, a lot of experience, in the tryouts.”

Added Aspenlieder: “Once we made the team, the competition was still fierce because there were still three players to be cut from the travelling team.”

The two U18 members – who represented the province in U17 play in Edmonton last year, and won bronze with Vernon’s Sky Volleyball at club team nationals in Calgary in May – helped B.C. finish fifth out of 10 teams.

Currie’s U16 squad just missed the podium, finishing fourth.

“I thought I had a pretty good shot at making the team, but I had to work hard to make it,” said Currie, who is currently in the Dominican Republic playing baseball for Team Canada at the Latin American Baseball Classic.

“The tournament was exhausting. Seven games in four days, all best-of-fives.”

Atkinson and Aspenlieder, rivals in school, have been friends for years playing club volleyball. Asked how they thought they played in Edmonton, each shyly looked at the ground and grumbled about playing “OK.” Each gave an honest assessment of the other’s performance.

“I thought Troy played lights-out in Edmonton,” said Aspenlieder. “It was awesome watching him play. He’s really improved.”

Said Atkinson: “Danny did really well, probably one of the best right-sides in the tournament.”

Asked about his performance in the U16 tournament, Currie said simply, “I thought I had a consistent tournament.”

Aspenlieder is back on the court this weekend. He’s competing for B.C. at the Western Canada Games in Fort McMurray.