Kyle Ensing leaves his mark wherever he goes. Not every volleyball player gets a Twitter fan club account made after them and not every player gets called a “once in a lifetime player” by their high school coach.
I witnessed the Ensing effect during a trip to Six Flags Magic Mountain, when an employee noticed my 2018 Long Beach National Championship shirt. After finding out I went to LBSU, he told me he went to high school with Ensing and saw him play. “We grew up together and it’s crazy to see what he’s accomplished,” he said.
With his arm rested on the media table inside the Walter Pyramid, Ensing relaxes after putting equipment away. Even after an animated practice, Ensing walks over in good spirits, eager to talk about his love for volleyball.
Fresh off a national championship season, the senior opposite/outside hitter is determined to do whatever it takes to go back-to-back and cap off his collegiate career.
“We’re definitely that caliber of a team to go back-to-back,” Ensing said. “That’s not to be cocky or anything. It’s definitely confidence and the work that we put in the gym.”
He has a right to brag, though, as Ensing is tied this season with fellow senior outside hitter TJ DeFalco, for kills with 134.
With feats including the 2018 AVCA First Team All-American and the 2018 NCAA All-Tournament team, it’s no surprise that Ensing can hold his own with anyone on the court. His 6-foot-7, high-flying frame makes him a dominant force on both ends of the floor.
Volleyball has always been a part of his life as his mother used to play in high school, but football and basketball were his first passions growing up.
Up until the ninth grade, Ensing played as a wide receiver in football, but decided to give up the sport after a devastating injury forced him to make a tough decision.
Ensing went up for a catch during a game and while airborne, a defender undercut him. Trying to break his fall with both hands, his body turned completely upside down. He braced for impact but landed awkwardly, breaking both his wrists, and ending his football career.
“My mom was like, ‘Alright it’s either basketball or volleyball from now on,’” Ensing said.
Beginning his freshman year at Valencia High School, Ensing played both basketball and volleyball, then fully committed to volleyball going into his sophomore year. Watching the success of his older brother Eric Ensing and experiencing a growth spurt convinced him to stick to volleyball.
“[Kyle] walked into the gym and he must have grown six inches over the [summer] break,” Valencia High School head coach Kevin Kornegay said. “Usually when you’re around someone, you don’t notice it. He walked into the gym and I was like, ‘Woah!’ and he became an immediate impact for us starting his sophomore year up until his senior year.”
Although Ensing lost his CIF championship matchup senior year, that season was a testament to how great he could be and how much more he could improve.
“Kyle is a once in a lifetime player,” Kornegay said. “This is my 25th year coaching and a guy like that doesn’t walk in the gym every season … we’ve had some really good teams in this program, but he as an individual talent was the best that ever walked in the gym.”
His skill on the court and accomplishments throughout his high school career created a buzz around his peers, so much so that someone created a Twitter account in 2013 known as the “Kyle Ensing Fan Club.” The account, “@EnsingClub,” has a profile picture of Ensing’s face as a child plastered over the face of Jesus Christ.
Whether he’s digging a ball, spiking it down for a kill or going up for a block, Ensing leads by example. The consensus on him from from his peers is that while he isn’t so much of a vocal leader, he leads by showing the proper tools needed to become successful.
“He’s got a great serve, he plays great defense and he has good size … he brings so much to us in every area of the game,” Long Beach head coach Alan Knipe said. “He’s a really easy kid to have in the program, and a really easy teammate for all the guys in the program regardless of how talented he is.”
Although he’s talented in almost every area on the court, Ensing’s brother says he’s still looking forward to what’s next for Kyle.
“It’s insane to say,” Eric said. “Kyle’s grown a lot more physically and he’s being a lot smarter … improving in all ways he can, and I can’t wait to see that from him.”
Long Beach will play 7 p.m. Friday against Penn State in the Walter Pyramid.
Bryan Aparicio is a fourth year journalism student at Long Beach State. He was originally a business major before transferring to the journalism program because of his love for sports. He currently covers the Long Beach State men’s volleyball team, the reigning national champions and aspires to be a beat writer for a professional team in the future.