ST. JOHN | Taylor Ellis is a club libero at Ignite and three time All-American volleyball player.
Danielle Ellis is the high school libero at Lake Central and an All-Duneland Athletic Conference and Times all-area player.
The twin sisters don't hold the sibling rivalry to resent the other's hard-earned spot. They take the court, dig for balls, dig again, and go home to share a room.
The pair were a key to Lake Central's sectional championship, as Danielle dug and dug, somersaulting at the line and sacrificing her body during an epic overtime win against Munster for the Lowell Sectional Championship. Taylor added six digs in the regional and another two in the semistate as the Indians roared through the postseason last year.
This summer, they were on an Ignite team that won a bronze medal at a national tournament in Dallas.
Their interchangableness and tenacity on the court makes Lake Central tough to beat. Their humble attitude as the coach's daughters makes them easy teammates.
"You have to have a lot of heart and hustle and a lot of drive and desire to dig balls up for your team," coach and mother Tina Tinberg said. "They enjoy digging balls up for their team and having a great transition out of that. They give 200 percent and they just have a lot of drive and a lot of competitive fire."
Tinberg, a former three-time all-Big Eight player at the University of Colorado, was raising softball players until she discovered Northwest Indiana's club scene when the twins were 10 years old.
They were instantly attracted to volleyball. The diving on the court, the chasing after loose balls and the team atmosphere had the girls hooked.
Since they play the same position, they talk volleyball and have learned from each other.
"She's never say die defense and dives all over everything," Taylor said of Danielle. "She pushes me to be better."
"She has a lot of energy," Danielle said of Taylor, "and (is) a leader of the pack. She takes everything she can get."
From there, they only improved. Hesitant to pull her daughters up only because they were her daughters, Tinberg made Danielle the libero as a freshman, and Taylor was only a backup defensive specialist as a sophomore.
Their skill made it impossible to keep them on the JV as youngsters.
"They complement each other really well," Tinberg said. "They have a great chemistry passing next to each other and as twins, they do answer each other's sentences so they have a good feel for playing this great game next to each other.
"We're lucky that every kid we have on this team has a special role and they all come together for the greater good."
With the IHSAA season starting Monday, teams in the DAC should not be surprised by Lake Central, which finished 28-10 last year, including wins over Valparaiso in the regional and LaPorte in the regular season.
"We want to be as good or better than we were last year" Danielle said. "We can't underestimate anybody. We have to play big, even though we're smaller than most teams."