No. 11 Rebels dash past conference foe Andrew Abadie T-R Assistant Sports Editor email@example.com
REINBECK — For the fourth time this season, the Class 1A No. 11 Gladbrook-Reinbeck volleyball team defeated AGWSR, except this time the Rebels advanced to the regional semifinals as a result. Knowing that G-R would have to play the familiar foe, head coach Paula Kelley made a point to make some minor changes to the Rebels’ offense. “They knew where we like to hit and our tendencies,” Kelley said. “We actually dealt with that in practice that we kind of changed some things around [and] brought kids from different angles so we could have a different looks type of thing. We kind of knew where they like to hit, and they knew where we like to hit. We knew we had to change things up and it worked out for us.” The strategy paid off as Gladbrook-Reinbeck won 25-16, 25-17, 25-21. G-R (26-8) quickly pulled away from AGWSR in the first set as the Rebel offense opened with an 8-1 run. However, the Cougars responded and narrowed the lead to 12-9. Following a timeout, the Rebel offense returned with a 5-1 run that helped G-R take the set. At the start of the second set, the two teams traded points until 6-6, but G-R broke out a 12-2 run that sealed a quick win. The two teams then found themselves in a game of runs in the third set. AGWSR found success with its serving and opened with a 4-1 lead. G-R cut the deficit to 8-6 with a 4-0 run but the Cougars stayed ahead with a 5-0 run, their longest of the night, to hold an 11-8 run. G-R then took the lead with a 6-0 run and surge to a 14-11 lead. The Cougars put together a late three-point surge to trail 21-20 but G-R closed the night with a 4-1 run for the win. Defensively, G-R had 51 digs and 14 total blocks with Mahayla Olson leading the team with 12 digs and Alyssa Morgan totaling 11. “We didn’t give up any more than three or four points in a row that I can remember so that was the thing that we needed was to finish in the front row,” Kelley said. “Especially when we get down a couple of points and give them that run we have to finish. The front row kids did that, plus we had some really good back row attacks as well. We were really kind of all over the place tonight.” G-R totaled 48 kills in the win with Saari Kuehl racking up 19 kills and Ava Wyatt posting 13 kills. Emma McClintock compiled 41 assists to go with her six digs. “I thought we came out really strong right away and I think that just got them on the back of their heels,” Kuehl said. “We talked about really how to pass the ball [before the game]. We knew where all their hitters were going to hit and we tried to play defense when we were expecting them to place the ball. I thought we did that pretty well.” For Kelley, Kuehl’s performance was not only key in the win, but her role will become more important as the team progresses in the tournament. “She’s our team leader,” Kelley said. “When we need points, we know who to go to but she gets everyone else going. She’s really good about wanting to spread that ball around. But when we need it she’ll ask for it because she can deliver.” G-R will go on the road for the regional semifinals to face Bishop Garrigan (19-11) in Webster City on Thursday at 7 p.m. The Bears defeated North Iowa in straight sets, 25-10, 25-22, 25-15, to advance.