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Ed-Co, HLV, Montezuma seeking state volleyball breakthroughs

Regional finals are Tuesday in 2A and 1A

Edgewood-Colesburg’s Erica Voss (from left) and Chezney Priem (3) celebrate after winning their Class 1A regional-semifinal volleyball match over Elkader Central on Thursday. The Vikings face Tripoli in a regional final Tuesday. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Edgewood-Colesburg’s Erica Voss (from left) and Chezney Priem (3) celebrate after winning their Class 1A regional-semifinal volleyball match over Elkader Central on Thursday. The Vikings face Tripoli in a regional final Tuesday. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

Eileen Bergan admits to superstition.

“We were in a regional final a few years ago, we practiced on the Sunday before, and we lost our big hitter (to injury),” the Edgewood-Colesburg volleyball coach recalled. “So this time, I gave them Sunday off.”

The regional-final round has arrived in Class 1A and Class 2A, and the Vikings are one of three area 1A teams — HLV and Montezuma are the others — trying to advance to the state tournament for the first time.

Ninth-ranked Ed-Co (25-10) faces No. 6 Tripoli (22-15) at Oelwein, No. 7 Montezuma (29-6) tangles with No. 10 New London (28-9) at Ottumwa, and HLV (19-10) meets No. 4 Starmont (28-6) at Dunkerton.

In 2A, No. 2 Dyersville Beckman (42-3) takes on No. 12 Durant (26-8) at Anamosa.

Bergan has brought Ed-Co to the regional finals before, most recently in 2013. That next step, the one to the U.S. Cellular Center, has been elusive.

“I’m confident in our girls,” she said. “I have some info on Tripoli, but I’m more focused on us, and what we can do. If we control the ball and run in system, we’ll be OK.”

HLV Coach Holly Kupka said the potential for a first state-tournament berth is “all I’ve been thinking about since Thursday. I definitely think our girls have the potential of getting there.”

The Warriors are facing a veteran Starmont squad that has reached the last two state tournaments, and has won 20 of its last 21 matches.

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“We’re probably playing the best we’ve played all season, and this is the time to do it,” Stars Coach Robert Goedken said. “We’ve got five hitters that are hitting really well right now, and we’re playing really good defense.”

HLV was rated to start the season, but played at a challenging tournament in Mount Vernon early, went 0-5 there against 2A, 3A and 4A teams, and fell out of the rankings. The Warriors have surged lately, though.

“We knew we would have a good team, and I really wanted to get into a competitive tournament early and test ourselves,” Kupka said. “If you take those losses away, our record is similar to Starmont’s.”

Beckman rolled through its first two postseason matches, against Maquoketa Valley and Cascade. Durant will be a step up in competition.

“Obviously, they are going to challenge us,” Beckman Coach Todd Troutman said. “We’ll have our hands full. But we’re doing a pretty good job focusing on ourselves, and we have found enough competition to prepare us for whatever we’re going to see next.”

Tuesday's Class 2A volleyball regional finals

(7 p.m. unless noted otherwise)

No. 2 Dyersville Beckman (42-3) vs. No. 12 Durant (26-8), at Anamosa

Class 2A might be the deepest and most competitive of any class at the state tournament next week, and Beckman certainly is a member of the contenders’ club if it passes this final preliminary hurdle. Four Blazers average more than 2 kills per set, led by Heather Boeckenstedt at 3.02. Sydney Steffen makes the offense hum with 9.94 assists per set. Coach Todd Troutman went over the 500-win plateau earlier this season, and Beckman pulled out of a minor slump by winning the Wamac Conference tournament title just before regionals began. Durant won’t be a pushover; the Wildcats are one of several talented teams in the River Valley Conference South Division. Seniors Kamryn Meyer (2.96 kills per set) and Aubrin Dittmer (2.82) lead the Durant attack.

Tuesday's Class 1A volleyball regional finals

(7 p.m. unless noted otherwise)

No. 9 Edgewood-Colesburg (25-10) vs. No. 6 Tripoli (22-15), at Oelwein

Ed-Co has reached the regional-final round for the first time since 2013, and looks to take down the tradition-rich Panthers and advance to state for the first time in school history. The Vikings downed Elkader Central in a four-set regional semifinal, and are led by senior Kelsi Askeland at 3.16 kills per set. Tripoli has been a staple at the state tournament for the past two decades, falling short of the U.S. Cellular Center just twice since 1998 in a run that has produced 11 championships. Junior Zoe Semelroth is the latest star for the Panthers, averaging 4.03 kills per set with a .428 kill efficiency. She had 21 kills and a .655 efficiency in a regional-semifinal sweep of West Central.

No. 4 Starmont (28-6) vs. HLV (19-10), at Dunkerton

Starmont brings an 11-match winning streak into Tuesday, and the Stars have won 20 of their last 21. Their lone loss to a 1A team was to No. 1 Janesville, and that was early in the season. Most of the roster consists of seniors, including their three big hitters — Hayley Goedken (2.77 kills per set), Madilyn Vaske (2.60) and Macy Mommer (2.60) — and setter Regan Janssen (10.42 assists per set). This crew reached the state tournament in 2016 and 2017, but is still looking to advance past the first round. HLV seeks its state debut and is better than its record indicates. The Warriors have won 15 of 17, with the two losses coming against 1A No. 7 Montezuma. HLV swept No. 14 Don Bosco in the regional semifinals behind 13 kills from Macie Boots, who combines with Amber Cooling to lead the team with nearly 3 kills per set apiece.

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No. 7 Montezuma (29-6) vs. No. 10 New London (28-9), 7:30 p.m., at Ottumwa (Evans Middle School)

A winner of 18 straight matches, Montezuma is on the doorstep of its first state-tournament appearance. The Bravettes have a pair of big hitters in senior Riley Gatton (3.74 kills per set, .300 kill efficiency) and junior Shateah Wetering (3.52, .351). Wetering has committed to play basketball at the University of Iowa. Montezuma takes on a New London program that has made seven state appearances since 2000, but resides in a long shadow of Fort Madison Holy Trinity in southeast Iowa. Like Montezuma, the Tigers have two dominant hitters in Addie Pry (3.49 kills per set) and Kaylor Schulte (3.10).

l Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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