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Coley's Point volleyballer signs on to play for University of New Brunswick

Ryan Littlejohn of Coley's Point has signed on to attend the University of New Brunswick this fall and play on its mens varsity volleyball team.
Ryan Littlejohn of Coley's Point has signed on to attend the University of New Brunswick this fall and play on its mens varsity volleyball team. - contributed

Coley's Point volleyballer signs on to play for University of New Brunswick

BAY ROBERTS, N.L. —

Ryan Littlejohn was definitely in his element last week.

The 17-year-old from Coley's Point, Bay Roberts, was in Halifax trying out for he Atlantic Canadian U18 boys volleyball team. That team will stay in the Nova Scotia capital to compete at the 2019 Canada Cup tournament July 17-21.

"I started playing back in Grade 5, and ever since then, I keep loving the sport more and more," the six-foot-three setter told The Compass in a phone interview. "I'm up in Halifax here now for Team Atlantic tryouts ... and I'm having the time of my life up here."

As of print deadline, the final roster for the Team Atlantic hadn't been released.

Volleyball has been a big part of Littlejohn's life, and all signs point to it staying that way judging from his recent decision to sign on with the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds. Littlejohn, who recently graduated from Ascension Collegiate in Bay Roberts, will study mechanical engineering at the post-secondary institution, which is located in Saint John.

"I'm very excited," he said. "It's been a goal of mine for a long time."

Littlejohn's prowess was noticeable early on.

He started playing on Ascension's senior boys team as a Grade 8 student attending Amalgamated Academy, a K-9 school in Bay Roberts.

To find extra time on the volleyball court, Littlejohn suited up for the Clarenville-based Eastern Impact club in his Grade 10 and 11 years. This past season, he was a member of the Loopers volleyball club in Gander. He's competed at national tournaments the last three years as a member of those teams. He's also been a member of provincial teams and competed in beach volleyball.

Littlejohn's love for volleyball is a family affair, as his dad Norm also played in this youth and coached it as well. Littlejohn has continued to excel at the sport, developing the skills necessary to contribute to all teams he plays for.

The setter's role is to set up the attackers to drill the ball at the opponent's end. He's basically the only player guaranteed to touch the ball during a rally. Littlejohn said it's a position that requires the player to take on a leadership role.

"You've got to be really smart to try and have good deception (skills) so that ... you can get a chance to get no block on your attackers, and then you get more chances of getting points," he said. "Whether I'm playing in the front or the back (on a rotation), I always move up to the net to set up the ball."

There were a number of schools to consider, as he's kept in touch with recruiters at different universities since Grade 10. Beyond volleyball, Littlejohn wanted to be sure the university he attended would allow him to adequately balance his athletic pursuits and studies. In some instances, schools were skeptical of the intention to pair varsity sports with a demanding program like mechanical engineering. But with smaller class sizes, Littlejohn felt the University of New Brunswick would be a good fit.

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