Boys volleyball: Ellenbecker paves way for Lake Park against Wheaton North
Lake Park senior Max Ellenbecker is making the most of his final sport in high school.
After playing on the varsity for three years in soccer and basketball, Ellenbecker is set to make one last run in volleyball.
The 6-foot-7 Ellenbecker has been a key component on the volleyball team the last two-plus seasons. He tallied 5 kills to lead the Lancers to a 25-22, 25-17 win over Wheaton North in DuKane Conference play on Tuesday.
The Lancers (10-4, 1-0) also received 23 assists from Luke Nelson, 9 kills from Joshua Schellinger, 5 kills from Ryan Donnelly and 7 digs from Christopher Livesay to win their third straight match.
Ellenbecker, a middle hitter, said he's enjoying being a leader for a young team. The Lancers have two sophomores -- Schellinger and Andrew Deardorff -- along with freshman Andrew Carzoli in their rotation. The Lancers entered the season with some question marks after losing Jordan Haigh (Queens University) and Nick Martinski (Ball State) among others.
Ellenbecker, a Loras College soccer recruit, said he received an introduction into leadership through all his years on the varsity in three sports, plus by playing on a young Lancers' basketball team this year.
"I'm getting used to it," he said. "I had similar experience with it in basketball. I was one of a few seniors, so I'm used to having a lot of young guys around me. It's also nice having a lot of guys that want to learn. Everyone is working hard to get better. Every team I've been a part of, the guys work hard day in and day out and try to set an example to have the other guys follow. They see wins come with hard work."
Lake Park coach Brian Fischer said Ellenbecker's consistent play and leadership have been instrumental in his team's fast start.
"We have relied heavily on him for senior leadership in practices and matches," he said. "He does a good job of keeping the younger players composed and getting used to the varsity time and the speed of everything we are doing.
"Max is a big part of our success. He's improved so much. He wasn't a staple in our offense last year. We had two Division II kids and one Division I kid last year, so they were more of our offensive threats and he did more of the little things. This year we have put him more on the face of our offense, getting him a lot more sets and runs and he's stepped up big time for us."
The Lancers relied on a team effort to knock off the Falcons. Despite a rough first game filled with errors, the Lancers bounced back with a strong effort to end the match.
"I feel happy about this win," Fischer said. "We came into this season with a goal to compete in the new conference. I told the guys that we have to take care of our business and can't look forward. I was happy with the way we came out. I thought we played really well as a team."
The Falcons (8-6, 1-1) were paced by Cale Shepherd, who had 6 kills and 4 digs. Benett Schreiner tallied 5 kills and 4 digs, while Micah Syswerda added 12 assists, 8 digs and 1 ace.
"We weren't playing to our best on every contact to every point," Wheaton North coach John Noe IV said. "We weren't consistent and always trying to get in that groove. Lake Park played great, especially as the match went on. It was a night of up and down."