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Ed-Co’s Annie Hoffman (14) and Kelsey Hansel (6) set the block during the Vikings’ come from behind 3-2 win over Waterloo Christian in Class 1A, Region 5 first-round play, at Edgewood, Oct. 18.

There are certain things you can count on every fall. The days get shorter, the autumn foliage dazzles the eye, and Eileen Bergan puts a competitive volleyball team on the floor at Edgewood-Colesburg.

This year’s Ed-Co team — featuring four senior starters — finished 4-3 in a balanced Tri-Rivers Conference West Division, and 21-13 overall. The Vikings made a strong postseason push before being eliminated by eventual Class 1A runner-up Springville in regional play.

“It took a good half of the season for the team to believe in their talent and then mentally decide they could compete with anyone,” said Bergan. “Once they came to that realization, they really started to gel as a team.”

Ed-Co hit its stride heading to tournament play, and picked up a pair of signature late-season wins.

“Beating Springville in pool play of the conference tournament was definitely a highlight,” Bergan said. “Beating North Linn in the regional quarterfinal was a great redemption game.

“Our mental focus and composure continued to grow and build throughout our season which allowed us to come on strong in the postseason. All three of our postseason games were highly competitive matchups and we persevered through the first two rounds and played with intensity in the loss to Springville.”

Kelsey Hansel led the Vikings offensively with 360 kills and paced the Ed-Co back row with 314 digs to earn Class 1A third-team all-state recognition. Annie Hoffman was a force at the net with 236 kills, and was second on the team with 307 digs.

Sophomores Marin Gaul and Audrie Helmrichs gave setter Ella Aulwes plenty of options, as Gaul knocked home 183 kills and Helmrichs 97.

“We say goodbye to several seniors. Each added their own style of leadership and talent,” said Bergan. “On offense, we lose two players making a strong presence at the net in Kelsey and Annie. Ella really grew as a decision-maker the past two seasons. Those three ladies have all been contributing at the varsity level for four years and take many accolades with them. Not as flashy, but making strong contributions on defense were Mikayla Thein and Abbie Sullivan.”

Aulwes reached 1,000 career assists with 778 this season, and Hansel reached 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs while becoming Ed-Co’s all-time kill leader.

Sullivan had 194 digs from the libero position, and Thein added 162 digs and was second on the team with 35 ace serves, with Gaul’s 47 leading the way.

While there are plenty of big shoes to fill in 2022, Bergan looks for the Vikings to field a strong team once again. Gaul and Helmrichs will lead the way, while Reagan Stelken, Ellie Bockenstedt and Campbell Kirby gained plenty of experience this fall and will be counted on.

“Next year will definitely bring about some changes, and we will undoubtedly have to have some young players step up quickly to fill roles vacated by the seniors,” explained Bergan. “Our departing class is large, but our incoming freshman class is large as well. I feel the leadership we have in the returning juniors and seniors, all team players make them ready to lead the reload next year.”