Liam Remple can’t wait for two years from now.
If the Vernon volleyball product continues his prowess, he’ll be a lock for the B.C. U18 men’s team, the same squad he made this year as a 16-year-old and helped win gold at the 2019 Canada Cup Indoor Volleyball Championships in Halifax.
Except he’ll probably play more.
Remple, a 6-foot-7 middle blocker who helped the Vernon Christian Royals win the B.C. High School Boys A championship, going undefeated in Prince George in November, didn’t play a point in B.C.’s 25-19, 21-25, 20-25, 25-17, 15-10 gold-medal win at St. Mary’s University over Team Quebec.
“I wasn’t expecting to play lots because I was the youngest on the team,” said the soft-spoken Remple. “I hope I get another shot in a couple of years.”
The 2019 Canada Cup Indoor volleyball Championships brings together Canada’s next generation of high-performance volleyball athletes to compete for their home province/territory in a true national championship. With 10 provinces and one territory taking part, there is representation from across Canada.
Remple played this previous club season for the Vernon Sky U18 boys team and, in May, tried out for Team B.C.’s top team, the U18 Selects. He found out the first week of June that he had made the team, and was excited to train and play in the Canada Cup.
“When I tried out, I didn’t know what my chances were of making the team,” he said. “In Halifax, the competition was as I expected. Very competitive, which is what happens when you have the best players in each province playing for each team. It was the best competition I’ve ever played against.”
B.C. started with three straight wins, beating Team Atlantic 3-2, Ontario Red 3-2 and Team Saskatchewan White 3-1. They then lost 3-1 to Quebec to finish second in their pool.
In their quarter final match, Remple and Team B.C. faced a tough opponent in Team Saskatchewan Green and due to an oddity in the tournament format had to play a best-of-three match to move on. B.C. won 2-0 to advance to face a tough Team Alberta in the semifinals, which B.C. won 3-2 (25-23, 21-25, 25-21, 25-21, 12-25 and 19-17).
The final, said Remple’s dad, Dwayne, was everything one would hope for in a national championship. The stands were packed and the intensity was high.
“The whole game was filled with monster serves, big blocks and hard hits with amazing digs,” said the senior Remple. “It was evident that these boys are the next wave of elite talent in Canada.”
Remple was not the only Vernon volleyball player in Halifax.
Royals teammates Jacob Defeo and Josh Hall were members of Team B.C. Red in the same division which went 2-2 in pool play, then fell 2-0 to Alberta in the quarterfinal. The team was coached by Canadian National Team member Landon Currie of Vernon, and Levi VanDerDeen of Vernon was an alternate on the squad.
Madison Gardner of Vernon played in the women’s Division 1 event for Team B.C. Red. They went 0-4 in pool action, and were eliminated from medal contention by the B.C. Selects 2-0 in quarterfinal play. Gardner and B.C. Red finished the tournament with two straight wins.
Olivia Tymkiw of Coldstream played in the Women’s Division 2 event for Team B.C. Blue, which went 1-2 in preliminary action. The team defeated Nova Scotia 3-0 in the round of 16 to advance to the quarterfinals, where they lost 2-1 to Ontario Red 3.
The future potential Canada Cup players took part in the BC Cup U15 tournament in Kamloops.
Vernon’s Taylor de Boer (playing up as a 14-year-old), her fellow “Twin Tower” middle Nova Gardner, Madison’s sister, and libero Maya Robinson helped Zone 2 Red win the silver medal, losing the final to Vancouver-Coastal. The Zone 2 Interior squad was ranked fifth going into the tournament.
“All three did exceptionally well,” said team coach Ashley Shannik of Kamloops. “All three are impact players and they all performed very well.”
McKenna Larson of Lumby, Sophie Dennis of Coldstream and Emma Bouchard of Vernon were members of Zone 2 White, which finished sixth out of eight teams.