Dynamic Duo: Edition 2 – Outside hitters

Michael Benz

Heading into MCAL playoffs after an undefeated regular season, senior captain Elly Lundberg and junior Mckenzie Cooke have set their eyes on the volleyball MCAL championship.

Lundberg, usually a middle hitter, took on the role of outside hitter along with Cooke early this year due to junior Claire Jackson’s season-ending ankle fracture. Lundberg and Cooke now combine for the most kills among two teammates in MCAL.https://vimeo.com/144780836

“Elly and I are on opposite sides of the court, which gives us an opportunity to be strong both on offense and on defense at the same time,” Cooke said.

So far this season, Cooke leads the team with 265 kills and Lundberg is close behind with 241, standing at 1st and 3rd in all of MCAL. Meanwhile, the girls are both in the top five in the league for hitting percentage.

“On the court I feel like we’re both leaders and we push everyone,” Lundberg said. “I think Mckenzie also helps a lot because she talks a lot to the younger players and makes them feel more comfortable, and that helps me be a leader by telling me what to do from an outsider’s perspective.”

[vimeo id=”144779543″ size=”small”]   The two have been teammates on varsity since Cooke’s freshman year, when Lundberg was a sophomore. The two have seen each other’s skill sets progress through the years.

“Freshman year she was awkward with her body, and she didn’t really know what was happening on the court,[but] she was still really good,” Lundberg said. “You can completely see how she’s grown into herself over the years. She’s comfortable with herself and she’s a big part of our team.”

Even though Cooke wasn’t around for Lundberg’s freshman year, she has still noticed changes in Lundberg’s game.

“I’m able to see how Elly has become stronger, she was always a great hitter from when I started first on varsity and I saw [Lundberg] as a sophomore being a starting middle,” Cooke said. “I’ve definitely seen how she can now jump higher from her experience on the beach and she can have more passing versatility because of her beach play as well.”[vimeo id=”144659825″ size=”small” align=”right”]

Lundberg said the success of their season is due to their competitive nature, both against opposing teams and towards each other.

“I think we have a great relationship — she’s always pushing me to get better, and I’m always pushing her,” Lundberg said.

Not only do they pair well up front, but they also compliment each other in other positions around the court.

“We both support each other in the front and in the back row―one of us is passing and one of us is hitting,” Cooke said. “When [Lundberg] is giving me passes in the back row for me to kill, she knows I’ll be doing the same for her the next time around.”

Their team has a star-studded lineup. Seniors Lundberg, Lily Barber, Marguerite Spaethling, Adelaide Shunk, and Junior Mari Molina are all committed to play volleyball at the collegiate level at their respective schools.

[vimeo id=”144778958″ size=”small”] “I think we have a special team. We always do stuff outside of just volleyball together,” Lundberg said, “I think it really does help and you can see the difference in our play. One of our strongest things is our connection and how we all love each other.”

According to MaxPreps, a high school sports statistic database, they are the 49th-ranked team in the nation and 11th-ranked team in California.

The Giants play their first MCAL playoff game today at home against San Marin.