A big Pink Night crowd was on hand at Edgewood-Colesburg High School, Oct. 7, as neighborhood rivals Ed-Co and Starmont tangled in a Tri-Rivers Conference volleyball matchup.
You can almost always count on a competitive match when these two teams play, but this year, a veteran Starmont team made quick work of the Vikings in a 3-0 sweep that lasted just over one hour.
“Starmont plays solid defense and they are a scrappy team,” said coach Eileen Bergan. “Their defense allows them to always put something up and their game is to keep the rally going and wait for you to make a mistake.
“That is mentally wearing. We talked about being prepared for that, but we weren’t truly prepared.”
The Stars led in the opening set as five early kills by Macy Hiemes sparked Starmont to an 11-6 lead, and it was a cruise to a 25-16 verdict as Hiemes ended the first game with eight kills.
Ed-Co came right back in the second game. Kills by Marin Gaul, Annie Hoffman and a pair from Kelsey Hansel saw the Vikings up 7-4 early. But kills from Hiemes and Mackenzie Curtis followed by a block by Sydney Baumgartner evened things at 7-7.
Ed-Co trailed by one at 12-11 following an Audrie Helmrichs ace, but after the Stars outlasted the Vikings during a terrific back and forth volley to make it 15-12, three consecutive Ed-Co errors and an ace from Baumgartner stretched the lead to 19-12. Three Hansel kills kept the Vikings alive, but like set one, this one ended at 25-16.
“I tried to tell them that was a great rally,” said Bergan. “Sometimes you lose those things but you just have to keep coming. I told them the longer the rally gets the more we need to talk and get hungry to end it, not just exist in it.”
Ed-Co came out on fire in the third game, jumping to a 6-1 lead on a kill and an ace from Gaul, a quick score by Hoffman, two Hansel kills and a push kill from Reagan Stelken. A spinning kill by Emily Schuchmacher ended the Ed-Co run, and four more Viking errors knotted things at 6-6.
Consecutive blocks by Starmont’s Curtis gave her team a 9-7 lead and the Vikings struggled offensively as the Stars extended the advantage to 13-8. Hansel tipped for a point, but the error bug again hurt Ed-Co and it was Starmont by seven at 16-9.
With Hiemes briefly out of the Starmont rotation, the Vikings battled back within four at 19-15, and Hansel’s kill kept Ed-Co in the game at 21-17. That’s when two Viking hitting errors and a ball-handling call saw the Stars move to match point, and game three ended 25-18.
“As the game went on, we got a little more tight and predictable in what we were running,” explained Bergan.
Senior Kelsey Hansel picked up her 1,000th career kill, joining setter Ella Aulwes, who recently notched her 1,000th career assist in the exclusive club.
“We knew Kelsey was getting close,” Bergan said. “Her hitting game is amazing, but so is the rest of her game. She does a lot for the team defensively and with her serve receive.”
Ed-Co statistics against Starmont: assists — Aulwes 31, Stelken one: kills — Hansel 17, Hoffman eight, Gaul six, Helmrichs three, Aulwes and Stelken one; digs — Hansel 15, Abbie Sullivan 10, Hoffman nine, Aulwes five, Campbell Kirby, Gaul and Helmrichs four, Stelken two, Mikayla Thein one; blocks — Helmrichs two, Aulwes, Hansel and Hoffman one; aces — Gaul, Helmrichs and Hoffman one; serving — Thein 6-of-6, Hoffman 8-of-9, Aulwes and Helmrichs 7-of-8, Hansel 6-of-7, Gaul 11-of-13.
The Vikings earned a conference win at home, Oct. 5, defeating East Buchanan, 3-0 (25-16, 25-12, 27-25).
Ed-Co statistics against East Buchanan: assists — Aulwes 33; kills — Hansel 16, Hoffman 10, Gaul seven, Helmrichs four, Aulwes two, Kirby and Stelken one; digs — Hansel 10, Hoffman nine, Kirby seven, Aulwes and Thein four, Sullivan three, Gaul and Helmrichs one; blocks — Helmrichs three, Hansel two, Aulwes and Hoffman one; aces — Hoffman three, Kirby two, Aulwes one; serving — Steger 6-of-6, Hansel 11-of-12, Thein 10-of-11, Hoffman 16-of-18, Aulwes 10-of-12, Kirby 7-of-9, Helmrichs 2-of-5, Gaul 1-of 2.