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Redhawks get redemption vs. Rebels

1A No. 3 North Tama knocks off G-R in four

T-R PHOTO BY ANDREW ABADIE - North Tama senior outside hitter Katie Kopriva (10) hits between Gladbrook-Reinbeck defenders Saari Kuehl (4) and Megan Cooley (17) during the first set of Thursday’s non-conference volleyball match in Traer. The Class 1A No. 3 Redhawks won in four sets.

TRAER — North Tama had to overcome its mental mistakes against Gladbrook-Reinbeck in a match the Redhawks came away with a 3-1 win.

The Class 1A No. 3 Redhawk volleyball team won 25-19, 18-25, 25-21, 25-16 over the Rebels.

In the first set, North Tama (14-1) jumped out to a 17-9 lead over G-R (11-6). However, the Rebels went on a 7-1 run to cut the deficit down to 19-17. However, the Rebels could not develop another run as the two teams traded points which allowed for North Tama to pull away with a 25-19 win.

G-R continued to have momentum and took a 17-13 lead in the second set. The Redhawks cut the lead down to 18-16 but the Rebels pulled away with a 7-2 run.

“We focused on their side more and what they were doing,” North Tama’s Katie Kopriva said. “I think that kind of made us hesitant and scared. We just needed to focus on our side and doing what we know is best. We got that confidence back up. We worked on what we needed to do to win rather than focusing on their side.”

T-R PHOTO BY ANDREW ABADIE - North Tama’s Grace Thorson (from left), Abby DeBoef, Carlie Gorder, Takoa Kopriva, Isabel Sierra and Katie Kopriva celebrate a point during the second set of Thursday’s non-conference volleyball match in Traer.

While North Tama head coach Channing Halstead gave credit to G-R’s adjustments and better passing, according to her the biggest difference was in her team’s errors.

“I thought they passed a little bit better in that set then they had,” Halstead said. “Otherwise I really think it was more of us we got a little [choosy] with our hitting instead of just being aggressive so I really just thought it was more or less just us.”

“I’m OK with some missed serves but 14 or 15 is way too many and it kills a lot of momentum when we do that and we focus on serving aggressively. That is something we try to do a lot of which is serve super-aggressive. That was kind of a momentum killer.”

By the end of the night, the Redhawks had 14 service errors to go along with 20 more attack errors.

However, North Tama regained its momentum quickly in Set 3 and took an 18-6 lead. Despite the deficit, G-R responded with a 10-2 run and then a 6-1 run to cut the score 24-21, but North Tama kept control and closed out the set.

T-R PHOTO BY ANDREW ABADIE - Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s Brianna Strohbehn (13) and Katie Clark (10) try to block the attack of North Tama’s Abby DeBoef (12) in the second set of Thursday’s non-conference volleyball match in Traer.

“I think we just got tight,” G-R head coach Paula Kelley said. “We got nervous. We got excited and just kind of lost our focus. We played on our heels rather than going for the ball. When it called those timeouts [I said] ‘Go forward. Go get the ball. Don’t let them play you.’ It took a little while there in Game 3 but at game point we didn’t give up. That was great character from our kids.”

In Set 4, the Redhawks took a 13-6 lead, but the Rebels battled back and brought it down to a 17-14 deficit. However, North Tama made one last run to close out the night on a 7-2 run.

A key part of G-R’s success was Saari Kuehl, who led her team with 10 kills while also recording seven digs. Despite Kuehl’s success, according to Halstead, North Tama’s gameplan was to limit Kuehl.

“She’s definitely one of the best outsides that we see the majority of the season,” Halstead said. “She’s really high on her contact and our defense is based on reading so she’s hard to read when she’s that high. One advantage of having Katie over there is that a lot of outsides aren’t used to having to work that hard so having a right side that makes an outside block and plays defense is very beneficial. We also tried to keep her out of a situation where she can take over a game. We tried to keep the ball out of her hands [and] we tried not to serve at her. We tried to not throw defense at her, we just tried to keep the ball out of her hands so we can make everybody else beat us.”

While Kopriva’s team-leading 14 kills, four aces and 12 digs were vital, the Redhawk middles proved to be just as crucial as Carlie Gorder and Alexis Hansen combined for 19 kills and seven blocks.

T-R PHOTO BY ANDREW ABADIE

“They can spread that offense so well,” Kelley said. “They have those middles that can slide so well and get us. Of course, Katie is lethal from any position that she is in and the other outside girl was hitting hard so we had to play all those positions and cover everything that they had.”

According to Halstead, developing their middles has been a major point of emphasis and will be a major factor as North Tama prepares for conference play.

“I don’t know how many kills they had but way more than they usually do,” Halstead said. “To get the middles going has been a focus of ours from playing together in the winter and through our summer stuff. It gets everyone else open too. I thought Alexis and Carlie played really well tonight. It really helps everyone else too. Us going into conference play with the way our middles played tonight is going to be pretty dang tough.”

North Tama will return to action on the road against GMG on Tuesday while Gladbrook-Reinbeck will host a tournament on Saturday.

T-R PHOTO BY ANDREW ABADIE

T-R PHOTO BY ANDREW ABADIE