Senior Spotlight: Artistry expands beyond the volleyball court for Ambridge’s Liam Buck

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Sunday, April 26, 2020 | 6:01 AM


Editor’s note: Each day, Trib HSSN will spotlight WPIAL spring athletes whose senior years were cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.

Liam Buck fashioned himself an on-court artist for the Ambridge boys volleyball team as the outside hitter turned his talents into a trio of Class AA all-section and All-WPIAL honors and a pair of all-state laurels.

He helped the Bridgers claim back-to-back WPIAL titles in 2018 and ‘19 and advance to the PIAA quarterfinals and semifinals in the past two seasons.

Buck also is an artist away from the sports arena as a growing passion for painting has continued through his time at home under Pennsylvania’s stay-at-home orders in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I paint a decent amount, mostly Bob Ross type paintings,” Buck said. “I got a kit two years ago for Christmas, and it had all the stuff similar to what he used. I do a lot of nature and landscape paintings. It’s a lot of fun.”

Buck said he didn’t consider himself that much of an artistic person.

“Then I took an art class in school, and I ended up really enjoying it,” Buck said. “I wasn’t doing that bad, and I got more into it.”

Buck hoped to create another masterpiece this spring with his Ambridge teammates — a core of returning starters and others hungry to move into starting roles — as they sought a WPIAL three-peat.

“We’ve been trying to make the best of this, but honestly, it sucks,” he said. “But we’re happy with the success, especially the past two years. Even though this year was cut short, we made a lot of memories together, spent a lot of time together and got better as a team.”

Buck has no plans to slow down his volleyball pursuits as he hopes to be with his Yorktown club team at nationals in late July before joining the nationally ranked NCAA Division I men’s team at Lewis University in suburban Chicago.

“One of the Lewis assistant coaches saw me playing in a tournament last summer. He reached out to me, and we started communicating,” Buck said. “I went on a visit, and I really liked everything about it.”

Lewis was 15-4 overall and 6-1 in conference play before the season was canceled.

What is it like being a part of the strong tradition of boys volleyball at Ambridge, which includes nine WPIAL Class AA titles since 2008 and a Class AAA crown in 2002?

Ambridge volleyball has had a great amount of success since coach (Glenn) Freed created a dynasty. He’s a great coach, and there’s a great community backing the program. The program has a great history, and it’s special to be a part of that.

At 6-foot-6, you also proved to be a force on the Bridgers boys basketball team. What similarities do you see in both basketball and volleyball that benefit your athletic abilities?

They work together in helping improve your footwork and jumping ability, and with both, you’re always relying on quickness, all-out athleticism and strength.

What is your best memory of playing volleyball at Ambridge?

I think just everything that went into winning the WPIAL titles the past two years. That is something special that will never leave me.

What is your best overall memory as a sports fan?

The (Baltimore) Ravens winning the Super Bowl against the 49ers in 2013. I am a big Ravens fan, and to see that team make the run to the title was a lot of fun.”

Do you take a lot of heat for being a Ravens fan in Steelers country?

Yeah, my family hates it.

When did you become a Ravens fan?

I would always play Madden growing up, and one day when I was 9 or 10, I started playing with the Ravens. I really liked their uniforms. As I got more into football overall, I really started liking the players and the team overall.

What do you think of the Ravens’ first-round draft pick, linebacker Patrick Queen from national champion LSU?

I think he’ll do really well. He’ll fit in well with the system. They can really use another good linebacker.

How tough was it seeing the Ravens, as the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs, fall short of the Super Bowl last season?

I remember I was at work and they had the (divisional) game (against the Tennessee Titans) on the TV. I looked over, and they were losing by 21 or something. I couldn’t believe it. But they were a decently young team with a lot of new players. (Quarterback Lamar) Jackson can do it all.

If you could pick anyone to give a commencement speech at your graduation, who would it be?

(Houston Rockets star) Russell Westbrook. He has a crazy work ethic, always gives 110 percent and never gives up. He’s one of the most athletic point guards ever. He would have a good message.

If you were asked to give a speech, what advice would you give to underclassmen?

Always trying your hardest and never give up on anything you do. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks of you. Always focus on what’s best for you.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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