Gehl, Edgertons all-league at Vail Mountain
EAST VAIL – Sister power is all the rage at the Vail Mountain School.
The volleyball program has five sets of siblings, which is not much of a surprise to a small school with a long tradition. But what was surprising Tuesday night was when coach Mike Garvey announced his team’s all-league selections was that the Gore Rangers not only had an all-leaguer in Brigitta Gehl and an honorable mention in Hilarie Bellis, but that both Edgerton sisters – senior Cynthia and freshman Ellen – were first-team all-league.
“For Ellen, I wasn’t surprised,” Cynthia said. “I thought she would get one. I knew Brigitta would get one. I was hoping maybe I would get it.”
Ellen wasn’t really considering an all-league award either.
“Not really,” she said. “My sister had mentioned it a few times, but I didn’t know what it meant.”
All-league sisters on the same team is definitely a first for the Vail Mountain School in volleyball. The Apples – Ashley, Class of 2002, and Aubrie, 2006 – both won the honor, but never played together. Maggie, VMS 2003, and Laura Haslee both got it in their respective careers, but the latter was at Battle Mountain. Lara Bossow, VMS 2003, was all-everything in her high school career, but none of her older sisters got the nod.
“It’s definitely unique experience for two girls to play together and be district champions and all-league,” VMS coach Mike Garvey said. “That’s something special.”
Gehl doesn’t have a sister in the program, but she’s now an honorary Edgerton.
“I’ve known her my entire life,” Cynthia said. “She’s known Ellen her entire life We’re practically all sisters.
Brigitta Edgerton, er, Gehl was not a surprise selection as VMS’ top offensive threat. Her road to all-league, though, was a bumpy one. She tore her rotator cuff last season and had surgery a year ago. But watching the club season from the bench turned into a good experience.
“I was learning the game,” Gehl said. “I did a lot of watching, and I was so excited to start playing again.”
All involved with VMS volleyball were excited.
“It was great because she was honorable mention last year,” Garvey said. “We hopped on her back and rode her through districts. She was our go-to hitter all season. She also stepped up defensively. She became an all-around player this year.”
Cynthia Edgerton entered the season as the team’s setter. The only kicker is that Ellen wanted to play there, too. Since Garvey’s offense – there was no 6-2 at VMS – only calls for one setter, this had the makings of a sibling competition.
“I was going to try to be the setter, but I knew that I was never going to be as good as (Cynthia),” Ellen said. “I figured I’d take the spot from her after she (graduated).”
Instead Ellen displaced Bellis – more on Hilarie in a bit – as the starting libero, and the Edgerton household remained tranquil. The sisters ended up being a superb team within a team. As the libero, Ellen’s job was to get the other team’s serve and start the ball forward, particularly to Cynthia who would set the ball for her hitters.
“It helps being sisters on and off the court,” Cynthia said. “We’d talk a lot too and watch games at home. Our dad taped them.”
Cynthia ended up running the offense as planned. A setter always has to work well with different hitters. That became even more of a challenge as VMS battled the flu and the personnel kept changing.
“She’s a great role model,” Garvey said. “She is what it means to be a student-athlete. Her decision making in districts allowed us to be district champions. She changed up her hitters and the tempo so well. As most setters do, she made her hitters look good.”
Cynthia is the fourth setter in Garvey’s tenure to make all-league (Tiffany Allan, Lara Greene and Molly Etters.)
“Either I’m becoming a setter’s coach or I’ve been really fortunate,” Garvey joked.
Meanwhile, Ellen took to libero with aplomb. And while the sister combination on the all-league team is a surprise, so is Ellen’s selection as a freshman.
“She’s something special,” Garvey said. “She kept us in rallies with one more touch. She played libero as it is meant to be played and that allowed us to be powerful offensively.”
What about Bellis?
With the Edgerton house in order, Bellis could have been upset with her fate. After all, she started the season at libero, only to be displaced by a freshman.
Instead of bemoaning the outcome, she found herself a role as a right-side hitter, and was a success there.
“She had really brought consistency to the team as a primary passer,” Garvey said. “She was a strong sever and she was just consistent attacking. She was a key to our success. For her to relinquish the libero and hand it over to a freshman was outstanding. There could have bitterness there. Instead Hilarie was supportive of Ellen and found another way to contribute.”
Chris Freud is the sports editor for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at 970-748-2934 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.