The Dinos men's volleyball team will look back on this year's dismal performance and contemplate how the season got away from them. But for two of the veteran players, it's more about looking forward to new challenges, new jobs and new families. Both Rob Ellis and Eric von Engelbrechten have completed their fifth year of eligibility and are bidding a fond farewell to their Dino careers. With their departure the worst loss suffered by the team this season was not on the court, but from the starting lineup.
Ellis, the five-foot-11 power-hitter-turned-libero, came to the University of Calgary after two stellar seasons with the Red Deer College Kings of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference. After consecutive championships with the Kings, it was a transition to crack the lineup of the rebuilding Dinos squad. But the two-time ACAC All-Star managed to excel--first as a power hitter, then in the libero position toward the end of his varsity career. This season, Ellis led the Dinos' defense with 100 digs and contributed 33 kills in an attacking role.
His leadership skills, particularly on such a young team, were at the forefront throughout his stay in Calgary. With his academic pursuits in the field of kinesiology, his future away from volleyball looks to be as positive as his on-court accomplishments.
Also departing is captain von Engelbrechten, who has spent the last six years with the Dinos. After red-shirting his first season, the six-foot-five right-side hitter rose to dominance as an attacking player, being named a Canadian Interuniversity Sport Second-Team All-Canadian in 2004 and 2005.
After making it to the national team's tryouts in the summer of 2005--only to be cut in the final round--von Engelbrechten continued his outstanding play this season with the U of C, posting 145 kills, 57 digs, ranking ninth in overall points in the Canada West conference and garnering a nomination for the TSN Award for athletic achievement. As an Academic All-Canadian, he plans to begin a career as a chartered accountant this spring, and looks forward to spending time with his wife, Heidi.
"I'll miss being on a team and competing," commented von Engelbrechten, echoing the sentiments of his departing teammate. "Every year you get 15 new best friends, and I'll miss the guys."
The guys will certainly miss these two, as the spaces they've left in the starting six will be difficult to fill.