Rebels rebuff Redhawk uprising
6th-ranked G-R volleyball tops North Tama in 3
REINBECK — This was quite a different game from Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s sweep of Grand View Christian on Tuesday.
The Thursday evening match between No. 6 G-R and North Tama was typically close and hard-fought, with the Redhawks (5-8) pushing the Rebels to the brink in the first two sets.
Ultimately though, it was another sweep for the Rebels (13-1) and another chance for G-R to prep itself for playoff action (25-20, 25-23, 25-15).
After a brief fast start, North Tama took a 9-6 lead and whipped the road fans into a frenzy. G-R coach Paula Kelley called a timeout to stop the run from the Redhawks and get the Rebels back on track. The first set was a game of runs, but the Rebels were able to pull out a 25-20 margin despite issues with serving errors.
“I think we were just overexcited,” Kelley said. “We just needed to calm down and settle into our game.”
The second set was even tighter. North Tama kept fighting and showing improvements from the previous meeting between the two squads — a 2-0 defeat for the Redhawks at the North Tama tournament. Kelley said the Rebels were not communicating at the point of attack, resulting in the team not being on the same page and unable to get into an attacking flow.
North Tama coach Channing Halstead said the Redhawks focused on the G-R attack in practices before the game and came in knowing what they had to do.
“One of our focuses this week was blocking,” Halstead said. “We talked a lot about not just the fundamentals of blocking, but the logistics of blocking and I think that made a big difference. I shuffled my lineup a little bit too to put more hands in front of the ball.”
The Rebels rebounded their serving to end up with nine aces, led by Saari Kuehl and RiLynn Bergmann with three each. Emma McClintock, Megan Cooley and Mahayla Olson had one ace each. As a team, G-R had 12 missed serves.
The score was tied at 23 in set two and North Tama sensed an opportunity to get back into the match and steal momentum. But instead, the Rebels gutted out two straight points to take the 25-23 set and gain a 2-0 advantage, taking away some of North Tama’s impetus in the process as the Redhawks had their backs against the wall.
The third set was straightforward, as G-R got into a real rhythm in the attack for the first time all night — and the Redhawks weren’t able to keep up.
A 25-15 margin closed out the night and pushed the win streak of G-R to eight games.
The Rebels had 36 kills on the attack, with Kuehl leading the charge with 20. Olson had six kills, while Cooley and Ava Wyatt had four each. Katie Clark and McClintock had one apiece. McClintock had 31 assists, while Cooley and Alyssa Morgan got one each.
On the defensive side, Morgan led the team with 19 digs. Kuehl was second with 17 and Olson had 11. Cooley recorded four digs, while Clark and Stephanie Kehoe had three each. McClintock had two and Bergmann got one. There were no solo blocks for the Rebels.
The third set was promising for Kelley, as she said the Rebels played with a confidence they hadn’t in third sets for a long time.
“We were able to come out in the third game and win that third game,” Kelley said. “This was a good thing for us to learn how to get through that third game and finish strongly.”
G-R hosts North Butler at 8 a.m. Saturday in Reinbeck. North Tama travels to Waterloo to play Waterloo East and Waterloo West in a tournament, starting at 9 a.m.