TRAER - The pressure of Senior Night may have gotten the best of the North Tama volleyball team Thursday night.
Playing in their final home match, the Redhawks wanted to perform at their best in front of their fans, but it was Gladbrook-Reinbeck that stole the spotlight.
The Rebels jumped out to early leads in the first two games with strong, aggressive serving and closed out the Redhawks in three sets, winning 27-25, 25-18, 25-21.
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
Gladbrook-Reinbeck juniors Bailea Evenson (1) and Hanna Christopher (3) seek a block against North Tama senior Josie Youel in Traer on Thursday. Christopher had seven kills for G-R as the Rebels won the non-conference match in three games.
"It was the last game of the season and we had five seniors on the court and I think they were nervous and wanted to play their very best," North Tama coach Stan Upah said. "I am not making excuses. We have a team that can play with great teams and play down with other teams. I am confident that they will fight back and play better next time out."
G-R coach Jay Arends said the difference in the match may have been in the serving game. The Rebels finished with 13 aces and served at 92 percent on the night.
"We are a very good serving team," said Arends. "We have averaged about 95 percent on the year, and if we can serve that way, that usually keeps us in the match and puts pressure on the other team."
The Redhawks jumped out to an 8-4 lead in the opener but back-to-back aces from Bailea Evenson closed the gap for the Rebels. Another long service run helped Gladbrook-Reinbeck pull even further ahead as Britney Keller collected three kills and later put her team up 23-14 with another kill and an ace. She had 12 kills, seven digs and was 8-of-9 in serving on the night.
"I think both teams served well, but I also think we both had a lot of passing errors," Upah said. "The serve receive was not good on either side. I don't want to take anything away from the servers - both teams have good servers - but we had too many passing errors. I felt that most of our errors were unforced, too."
The Redhawks did not go away quietly in the first game. Despite a nine-point deficit, North Tama (16-12) scored eight straight points to close to within one. Molly Dvorak, who had seven kills and three blocks in the loss, scored three kills and a block during that 8-0 run and then made it 24-23 with another kill.
After two ties at 24 and 25, the Rebels eventually finished off the home team following a Hanna Christopher kill and a North Tama hitting error.
"That's been a problem we've had all year. We let teams get runs on us and usually teams make runs early in the set and we can't get caught back up," Arends said. "This time we had a lead and held on.
"There were runs on both sides tonight. We each made seven- or eight-point runs but we were just lucky enough to make our runs at the end when we needed it."
The momentum stayed with the Rebels in game two as G-R led 6-1 thanks in part to back-to-back aces from setter Jenny Schildroth, who finished with 29 assists and three aces in the victory.
A kill by Hayley Weber made it 13-6 later in the set and it stayed a 6-8 point lead until another late rally from the Redhawks made things interesting. North Tama trimmed its deficit to two at 20-18 but five straight points from the Rebels closed out the game and gave G-R a commanding edge on the scoreboard.
"This team never gives up. They have not given up all year. It doesn't matter if we are down by six or seven at 24 points, they'll continue to fight back," Upah said. "That is the heart that every coach wants to see in their team."
Another fast start for G-R gave it a 4-0 lead early in the third set, but the Redhawks fought back behind strong play at the net from senior Josie Youel, who finished with 12 kills, three aces and four blocks in the match.
Youel recorded consecutive kills to give her squad an 8-6 lead and then her ace pushed the advantage to 12-8 and forced Arends into a timeout.
The lead was short-lived though as the Rebels bounced back out of the break, and got two straight tips from Schildroth to even the game at 12-all. After two more ties, the Rebels pulled away with a 5-0 run that included two kills each from Christopher and Keller.
After North Tama scored two straight, the Rebels ran off another four in a row to make it 23-17. The Redhawks scored four of the next five points to close the gap but Evenson made sure the visitors traveled back home with a victory as her kill ended the match.
The Rebels have relied on Keller to make big plays for them all season, but Arends said more players got involved Thursday night.
"She's made runs during the season, but the other teams adjust with the block and when that happens, we haven't been able to adjust or go to a different hitter," he said of Keller and her supporting cast. "Tonight, we moved the ball around and got a lot of different hitters involved."
Both teams played without the services of a regular contributor. The Redhawks did not have middle hitter Sara Howard, while the Rebels played without Shelton Hatch. Howard's loss appeared to effect the Redhawks more than Shelton's absence effected the Rebels.
"We are playing with a starter down," Upah said. "We are missing Sara and that mojo that we usually have through the whole team with her in there.
"We expend a lot of energy and that may be my fault because we don't use a lot of subs. But I feel like I am playing the best team. I am proud of their efforts tonight even though we lost."
Christopher and Weber both had seven kills in support of Keller. Weber also finshed with a team-high 13 digs, while Alyssa Christopher collected nine digs and two aces.
Youel was 22-for-23 from behind the service line for North Tama. The Redhawks also got 15 assists and a 17-for-17 serving performance from Anna Kvidera, while Courtney Stuart and Rian Weida each had three blocks. Shayla Kopriva had a team-best six digs.
Thursday's match was the final regular season game of the year for both squads.
North Tama begins Class 2A postseason play Tuesday at Jesup, while Gladbrook-Reinbeck hosts Aplington-Parkersburg. Both matches are set to begin at 7 p.m.
East Marshall 3, GMG 2
GARWIN - Countering a pair of one-game deficits, the Mustangs went the distance to secure a 27-29, 25-18, 23-25, 25-20, 15-8 triumph over the Wolverines Thursday in non-conference play.
Claire Johnson powered East Marshall (6-18) at the net with 18 kills, two blocks and 12 digs, while Meriel Leavy supplied nine kills and three blocks. Freshman Amanda Paxton added nine kills as Brooke Miller and Kelsea Anderson each tallied eight.
Ashley Allen distributed 56 assists and had five blocks, while serving 16-of-18 with six aces. Madisen Hinegardner came up with 19 digs and Haley Long had eight to go with a 12-for-12, 5-ace effort on serve. Sophia Grego connected on all 11 service attempts, while Taia Varen (11-for-12, 3 aces) and Madison Stonewall (5-for-5) also contributed in the win.
Caitlin Appelgate led GMG (4-13) with nine kills, eight digs and four aces, while Olivia Barritt added seven kills and three solo blocks. Mackenzie Burt added five kills, 17 assists and eight digs in the Wolverines' seventh straight loss. Abigail Duden shared a team-best 20 digs with Jennifer Borota. Duden added a pair of aces as Mikaella Foster tallied 17 digs, 10 assists and four aces. Peyton Mannan chipped in 12 digs and Olivia Welton had a pair.
East Marshall hits the road to play Nevada in Class 3A Region 5 play on Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. The winner squares off with either Benton or South Tama on Oct. 31 at 7 p.m.
GMG hosts a Class 1A Region 6 first round match against Waterloo Christian Tuesday at 7 p.m. The winner meets either Don Bosco or East Buchanan on Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. in Winthrop.
South Hardin 3, Colo-NESCO 0
COLO - South Hardin spoiled the Royals' Senior Night with a 25-16, 25-15, 25-9 non-conference sweep over Colo-NESCO.
Caitlyn Riese led the Royals (12-12) up front with five kills, eight digs and two blocks. McKenna Farren added eight assists and Brittnee Packer dished out five. Madison Farren tallied three kills and Kylie Sarver came up with a team-best 10 digs. Packer served 10-for-10 with an ace, while Riese (10-for-11) and Madison Farren (4-for-4) each served up a service winner.
No stats were available for South Hardin (13-16). The Tigers will compete at the Woodward-Granger Tournament Saturday.
Colo-NESCO hosts Ankeny Christian Academy in Class 1A Region 4 first round play Tuesday at 7 p.m. The winner advances to play either Iowa Christian Academy or Grandview Park Baptist in a quarterfinal match at Colo on Oct. 29 at 7 p.m.
South Hardin squares off with BCLUW in a Class 2A Region 5 opening-round match Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Eldora. The winner battles No. 9 ranked Grundy Center on the Spartans' home floor on Oct. 29 at 7 p.m.