NORFOLK, Neb. - College athletes in northeast Nebraska are coming back for a year of redemption after the pandemic put things on hold.
Volleyball players in Norfolk say they have unfinished business.
"I just felt like we're not done," said Northeast Junior Alexis Kapales.
"It's just hard to say goodbye to it, so you just can't," said Northeast Junior Elizabeth Christensen.
The two juniors decided to jump into one more year with Northeast Community College volleyball.
Although Northeast is a two-year college, COVID-19 gave them a chance to get a year back.
"It was kind of a hard decision just with school because it's like do I go one year with taking classes that doesn't matter when I could go onto a four-year," said Kapales.
But after just a week of practice, the Hawks are happy with their choice.
"I'm glad they wanted to come back and continue to play," said Coach Amanda Schultze. "They will bring a lot of experience."
Last spring, the season was smashed into two months.
Now, a regular-season ahead, the goals are big.
"With the team that we have and the talent that we have, I think we can get back to the national tournament," said Schultze. "I know we can."
Players say a large part of their talent comes from the bond they share.
"Everyone says playing with the team is like a family," said Christensen.
The tight-knit relationships stem from the small town recruits.
All but one player is from Nebraska.
"They grew up really working hard for what they wanted," said Schultze. "They played all three sports...just athletes, all-around athletes."
And it's those traits that might just set them up for success this year.
"With the experience and with the talent the freshmen have, we'll be unstoppable once it comes time to be on the court," said Kapales.