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Rebels run it back

No. 4 Gladbrook-Reinbeck earns second state volleyball berth in three years

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING - The Gladbrook-Reinbeck volleyball team starts to celebrate its Class 1A Region 4 finals victory over Stanton on Wednesday night at Norwalk High School. The fourth-ranked Rebels swept aside the Viqueens in straight sets, winning 25-23, 25-20, 25-14, to advance to next week’s state tournament in Cedar Rapids.

NORWALK — When the ball left sophomore middle hitter Megan Cooley’s hand, she knew.

Gladbrook-Reinbeck was heading back to State.

Cooley’s kill down the center of the court was the final nail in the coffin of the Stanton Viqueens, and the No. 4 Gladbrook-Reinbeck Rebels completed a 3-0 sweep (25-23, 25-20, 25-14) in the Class 1A Region 4 final to punch their ticket to the 2020 State Volleyball Tournament.

It’s the third time the Rebels have made state and the first time since 2018, when a roster featuring current G-R stars Saari Kuehl and Alyssa Morgan lost in the round of eight to Janesville.

G-R head coach Paula Kelley, who has been involved in all three of the Rebels’ appearances at state (1988 as a player, 2018 and 2020 as a coach), said qualifying as a coach has been better than making it as a player.

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING

“We earned and deserved what we got here at the end,” Kelley said. “It was great as a player, but so much more wonderful as a coach. I get to involve more people than just me. So I really enjoy it much more as a coach.”

G-R was behind the eight-ball at the start of Wednesday night’s match, falling behind the Viqueens early on and trailing 17-13 in the first set when Kelley was forced to use a timeout. There were still nerves present for G-R and the team was on its heels.

Kelley said she told the team to get back to basics and focus on finishing its offensive sequences.

What followed was a 6-0 run to take a 19-18 lead, and a Kuehl kill ended the set with a 25-23 Rebel victory despite trailing for the majority of the set.

The second set followed a similar pattern to the first, with Stanton (25-6) jumping out to an early lead and forcing the Rebels to come back more than halfway through the set.

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING

Kuehl said the Rebels showed good fightback.

“We just had the drive, I felt,” Kuehl said. “We definitely had more confidence heading into the third set, we just knew we had to take care of business.”

felt,” Kuehl said. “We definitely had more confidence heading into the third set, we just knew we had to take care of business.”

Kuehl was once again the Rebels’ offensive leader, scoring 17 kills and taking attempts from everywhere on the court. Emma McClintock paced G-R with 31 assists.

Coming back from a 15-12 deficit, the Rebels stormed ahead and led 24-19, closing out the set with a Cooley kill.

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING

Cooley, one of a number of sophomores making a big impact on the team this season, had nine kills and showed up in important moments.

After the game, Cooley was over the moon about making it to Cedar Rapids.

“It’s amazing, I love it,” Cooley said. “My stomach hit the ground, like, ‘Oh my God, we’re going to State.'”

The second set was a watershed moment — Gladbrook-Reinbeck had all the momentum after winning the first two in tight circumstances, and the Viqueens began to show signs of wearing down. The game was cleanly played and didn’t feature a ton of long volleys, but McClintock led the team in digs with 12. Mahayla Olson recorded nine, Kuehl had eight and Stephanie Kehoe had seven. The Rebels’ front line did not produce a ton of blocks but did throw Stanton off of its hitting rhythm.

The Rebels jumped out to a 9-2 lead in the third set and forced an early timeout from Stanton. At this point, Kelley said, it started to become real. G-R was clicking at a high level and continued to stretch its lead. A last-ditch timeout from the Viqueens at 20-9 tried to stem the tide, but it was too late.

When the final kill from Cooley hit the ground, the bench erupted with joy. Sophomore Ava Wyatt said she jumped as high as she could before running from her spot on the court to join in a group hug while the G-R players processed their accomplishment.

“I ran out to them, tears running down my face,” Wyatt said. “It’s just so surreal I can’t even put words to it. It’s crazy.”

G-R now waits until Tuesday to go to Cedar Rapids and face No. 7 Springville in the quarterfinals. The match will start at 8 p.m.

Iowa Girls State Volleyball Tournament

At U.S. Cellular Center, Cedar Rapids

Quarterfinal Pairings

CLASS 5A

Monday, Nov. 2

No. 1 Dowling Catholic (21-2) vs. No. 8 Dubuque Hempstead (20-5), 10 a.m.

No. 4 West Des Moines Valley (19-6) vs. No. 5 Iowa City Liberty (22-2), 12:30 p.m.

No. 2 Ankeny (19-2) vs. No. 7 Ankeny Centennial (16-9), 10 a.m.

No. 3 Pleasant Valley (20-1) vs. No. 6 Cedar Falls (26-5), 12:30 p.m.

CLASS 4A

Monday, Nov. 2

No. 1 Cedar Rapids Xavier (23-6) vs. No. 8 Dallas Center-Grimes (17-4), 3 p.m.

No. 4 Western Dubuque (24-10) vs. No. 5 Sergeant Bluff-Luton (23-6), 5:30 p.m.

No. 2 North Scott (22-4) vs. No. 7 Gilbert (26-9), 3 p.m.

No. 3 Glenwood (32-2) vs. No. 6 West Delaware (27-11), 5:30 p.m.

CLASS 3A

Monday, Nov. 2

No. 1 Osage (31-2) vs. No. 8 Humboldt (33-3), 8 p.m.

No. 2 Clarion-Goldfield-Dows (27-2) vs. No. 7 Red Oak (30-4), 8 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 3

No. 4 Davenport Assumption (22-2) vs. No. 5 Unity Christian (23-5), 10 a.m.

No. 3 Mount Vernon (30-6) vs. No. 6 Union Community (32-9), 10 a.m.

CLASS 2A

Tuesday, Nov. 3

No. 1 Western Christian (32-9) vs. No. 8 South Hardin (21-14), 12:30 p.m.

No. 4 Boyden-Hull (24-7) vs. No. 5 Denver (33-5), 3 p.m.

No. 2 Wilton (32-3) vs. No. 7 Van meter (19-3), 12:30 p.m.

No. 3 Dike-New Hartford (29-4) vs. No. 6 Sumner-Fredericksburg (27-7), 3 p.m.

CLASS 1A

Tuesday, Nov. 3

No. 1 Janesville (28-4) vs. No. 8 Council Bluffs St. Albert (14-13), 5:30 p.m.

No. 4 Gladbrook-Reinbeck (32-2) vs. No. 5 Springville (27-4), 8 p.m.

No. 2 Wapsie Valley (20-7) vs. No. 7 Burlington-Notre Dame (17-5), 5:30 p.m.

No. 3 Le Mars Gehlen Catholic (24-5) vs. No. 6 New London (22-7), 8 p.m.

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