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Valencia's Kyle Ensing: A burden he can bear

Valencia’s Kyle Ensing willing and able to try to lead his team back to the top

Posted: March 23, 2014 10:47 p.m.
Updated: March 23, 2014 10:47 p.m.

Valencia junior Kyle Ensing committed to play for Long Beach State last fall. He also made this summer's 2014 USA Boys' Youth National Team.

 

Last season, Valencia’s boys volleyball coaching staff had no other choice but to hand the keys to Kyle Ensing.

It was asking a lot of the sophomore outside hitter and budding star. But Valencia head coach Kevin Kornegay only did it because he was sure Ensing was up for the task.

“Kyle had to be the guy right away,” Kornegay says. “He knows it. He knows we lean on him. We try not to make a big deal out of it.”

This season, Ensing, 17, is being asked to lead the once-dominant Valencia Vikings back to the top after the team tumbled down the Foothill league ranks a year ago.

He has to be the guy more than ever.

“I’m ready,” says Ensing, now a junior entering his second year of varsity play. “I’m a junior now and I’m more experienced and I have a lot of confidence now to win some games.”

Here are the numbers.

Valencia won a state-record 112 straight league matches and 12 Foothill titles in a row from 2001-2012.

But a rash of talented players graduated after the 2012 season, leaving the Vikings with a very young and unproven group of players.

The streak ended.

Valencia finished fourth in league, 13-20 on the year and missed the playoffs.

All of a sudden the unbeatable Vikings were transformed to a midde-of-the-road team in town.

“When I came in I was excited to play for a really good team and how they have an amazing streak, but I was kind of scared to lose the streak and I knew it was going to be hard,” Ensing says.

But that’s where Ensing comes in. The 6-foot-6-inch junior with a deadly power swing showed his potential right away last season.

He ended the year with 385 kills and was named to the All-Foothill and All-Santa Clarita Valley first teams.

This past summer, he played for a USA Select A1 High Performance volleyball team that competed against international competition in Florida.

In October, he verbally committed to play volleyball for the national powerhouse Long Beach State team. There, he’ll joining his older brother Eric, who is a redshirt freshman on that team.

Last week, Kyle was also informed that he made the 2014 USA Boys’ Youth National Team, which will compete against nationwide competition in the summer.

“He’s just a guy that doesn’t walk in your gym every day,” Kornegay says.

But as long as Kyle Ensing is walking through that door, Valencia may very well have a chance to climb back to where it once was.

Valencia returns nearly every starter from a year ago and Ensing is more confident and a notch better.

“He’s all-around,” says junior teammate Dakota Abbott. “He can pass the ball perfectly. He can set the ball. Whatever position you want him to be. He can be a the libero, he can be the middle.”

Ensing wasn’t always a volleyball player, but he’s been an athlete since day one.

He played football and basketball growing up and, at a younger age, he said he didn’t enjoy volleyball.

Eventually, he got back into the sport when he saw his brother playing and succeeding at Valencia High.

Eric Ensing was named All-Foothill and All-SCV Player of the Year as a senior in 2012 after breaking a school record with 464 kills.

Kyle was a freshman that year and was fairly new to volleyball. But his older brother saw the potential early.

“When it comes down to end of the match, the ball always seems to find him whether it’s him serving or him digging or passing the ball, he’s always the one that’s finding a way to make a play,” Eric says of Kyle.

Kyle decided to quit football after he broke his wrist the summer before his freshman year at Valencia. He still plays basketball and is a forward for Valencia’s varsity team.

But as time went on and heads continued to turn at it became clear that Kyle was destined for volleyball greatness.

“When you go to tournaments and you look around at all the players, he’s a guy that stands out,” Kornegay says.

There’s no mystery about how much Kyle means to this Valencia team, and that’s just fine with him.

He can handle the responsibility as he prospers in pressure situations and seeks out the competition.

It’s what makes him so lethal on the court and it’s why his potential for the next two years of high school are through the roof.

Maybe Kyle Ensing is just the answer needed to restore power at Valencia.

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