By Bob Carter
Vancouver Tech served early notice this season that it was a serious contender in the AAA ranks, ready to take another step up.
The speedy Talismen placed fourth in a stellar 40-team field at the UBC tournament, beating a strong Delta squad along the way before losing to AA power Pacific Academy in the semifinals. And they have climbed to No. 2 in the provincial rankings, just behind Kelowna and one spot above Delta.
This uptick follows a 13th-place finish in the Big Kahuna BC Volleyball Championships in 2014 and a sixth-place showing last year with a young team.
Boosted by a large contingent of grade 12s this year, Van Tech has utilized a formula similar to last season, riding the talented 6-4 Colton Liu to score and a quick, agile defence to thwart the opposition.
Liu is the captain, team leader and, perhaps, the best hitter in the province. Among his achievements: first team all-star in last year’s BCs, Volleyball BC’s Male Player of the Year and spots on Team BC and Canada’s U-18 team.
Overcoming a serious brain injury sustained as a toddler and a childhood marked by poverty, Liu — a Grade A student — received a 2016 Courage to Come Back Award.
Liu and a strong supporting cast that includes Eric Truong, the top AAA libero in last year’s provincials, have created great expectations. And with good reason since the Talismen again sport a hustling defence with few equals, an asset that keeps them in most games.
Even with a height deficit against many teams, Van Tech is proving quickly that it belongs in AAA’s upper echelon.