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Valencia's Eric Ensing: The tall task

Ensing looks to continue Valencia’s dominance

Posted: March 21, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 21, 2012 1:55 a.m.

In three years, Long Beach State commit and Valencia senior Eric Ensing has grown eight inches. Now, at 6-foot-7, he is trying to add his name to Valencia’s growing volleyball legacy.

Even when he was in sixth grade, under 6-feet tall and just starting to play volleyball, Eric Ensing knew about the ever-growing tradition of Valencia High School boys volleyball.

He knew about the four CIF championships.

He knew about the Foothill League winning streak, which has blown up to a state-record 102 straight wins.

And yes, he knew about all the great players to pass through the program.

Valencia has produced the kind of standard in the sport that a senior like Ensing thrives on.

It’s the kind of standard that produces great players year after year.

And perhaps Ensing is next on that list.

“Wow, are they that good?” Ensing says of past players. “And it’s kind of hard to live up to that standard when a team is that good, trying to live up to their standard.”

He certainly has the tools to do it.

When Ensing arrived at Valencia as a freshman, he was 5-foot-11, a fairly average height for volleyball.

The summer between freshman and sophomore year, he remembers growing three inches.

The next summer, he hit another growth spurt and grew a few more inches.

As he grew, he continued to play year-round volleyball and learned how to play the outside hitter position in a well-rounded fashion.

Now standing at 6-7 and boasting as powerful a swing as ever, the Long Beach State University commit has become the guy that gives opposing blockers and coaches headaches.

“In volleyball, you’ve got to play it to be really good at it,” says Valencia head coach Kevin Kornegay. “There’s a lot of little individual talents you must have to play the game. He’s seen all the things. He knows what hits to use from playing all the time.”

He didn’t learn it all by accident.

With each passing growth spurt, Ensing lived and breathed volleyball.

His height grew, his skills grew, but his dedication never waned.

“He used to be not as tall, but when we grew, he started realizing how good he was,” says senior teammate Griffin Ender, who’s played with Ensing for four years.

Ensing played high school ball in the spring, beach in the summer and club in the fall. If there was time in between, he’d even play pick-up games with friends around the neighborhood.

“I just absolutely love the sport,” he says. “I can’t get enough of it, and even when I’m not playing it, on weekends, I get together with my brother. Any chance I can get with neighbors, friends, we just get together and play volleyball.”

His devotion to the sport has shown.

Last year, he quietly played his part as a junior slightly in the shadows on a senior-heavy team.

By the time playoffs rolled around, Ensing was fully immersed in the spotlight.

In each of the first three rounds of the CIF-Southern Section Division II playoffs, Ensing led the Vikings in kills, including a playoff-best 18 in a quarterfinal loss to Beckman High on May 14.

He finished the season with 261 kills, good for third best on the team.

With several key seniors graduating, Ensing is now the team’s primary offensive threat.

Not just by default, but because he’s that much better.

Since he first picked up a volleyball, this is what he wanted to be – the go-to player on one of the most storied boys volleyball programs in Southern California.

“I was looking forward to that and here it is now,” Ensing says. “I like it.”

And yet, unless it’s coaxed out of him, he won’t speak much about his great aspirations.

In fact, he won’t speak much at all.

He isn’t the type to show a lot of emotion on the court and he generally doesn’t do a lot of talking.
He just plays.

“It’s kind of a cheesy saying, but he kind of lets his playing do the talking for him,” says Hart High head coach Kevin Ker, who coached Ensing’s club volleyball team last year.

It’s a constant internal battle, Ensing explains. Especially in a sport like volleyball where momentum can change so quickly, it’s important to keep emotions in check.

“The good thing about him for volleyball, it’s steady as you go,” Korengay says. “He’s not too up, he’s not too down. He’s even keel.”

Don’t let the apparent lack of emotion fool you though.

He cares about ever kill he makes and ever victory the team tallies.

He cares about the legacy he leaves at Valencia High.


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