Top-15 prospect elects to stay home

By Cary Mellon on February 24, 2015

Projecting as a Libero for UBC Okanagan Eli Risso was a skilled setter at the High School level and will provide the Heat with options next fall.

Projecting as a Libero for UBC Okanagan #3 Eli Risso was a skilled setter at the High School level and will provide the Heat with options next fall.

(Photo contributed)

Kelowna Secondary’s Eli Risso keeps his talents local, will play for Heat for 2015-16

KELOWNA, B.C. – Kelowna Secondary’s Eli Risso has chosen to stay close at home to pursue studies and a further career in volleyball, opting to join Greg Poitras and the rest of the UBC Okanagan Heat men’s team next fall.

The 6-1 Risso has doubled as a libero and setter for his high school, and was the starting setter for the 18U club team here in Kelowna. Coach Poitras is expecting to employ Risso as a libero moving forward.

“His versatility at setter and other roles will be a big asset to our program,” said Poitras of his newest recruit. “[But] we will be looking at Eli in the position of libero going forward.”

Risso was ranked No. 7 in the Province Class of 2015 top 15 list. A Provincial All-Star throughout high-school and two-time AAA Boys Provincial Championship silver medalist, he also 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.”

Eli Risso (Photo contributed)

Eli Risso (Photo contributed)

Echoing his now former player’s words, Kelowna Secondary coach Mike Sodaro would add: “What a great opportunity for our Kelowna athletes to stay at home and continue their postsecondary education and for a CIS volleyball program.”

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,” he said of his recruit. “He is a very threatening server and has excellent backcourt skills.”

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 [the team’s] goals.”

Risso will likely be playing understudy to Jeremy Fostvelt, who will be entering his fifth and final year with the Heat next season. With a few other younger guys on the roster marked for the position, Risso will indeed be making his case to take over that starting role over Fostvelt for the future.

Versatile in high school Risso played basketball up to grade 11 and competed on the KSS golf team, his versatility was also on display in winning the B.C. Junior Ultimate Championships club last May, on a team coached by UBC Okanagan Heat soccer women’s team’s assistant coach Ashlee Davison.  He will utilize his talents next fall on the court and in the classroom where the strong student has his eye on a Business degree from UBC.

You can watch Risso and the rest of Heat men’s volleyball when they return to action next year. Be sure to check back at and for updated schedules.

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