G-R’s season ends as Orioles get revenge

Gladbrook-Reinbeck junior middle hitter Megan Cooley, left, goes up for the attack against Springville’s Grace Matus during the fourth set of their Class 1A state volleyball semifinal match on Tuesday night at the Alliant Energy PowerHouse in Cedar Rapids. Cooley had seven kills in the Rebels’ season-ending, four-set loss to the Orioles, 25-23, 25-23, 24-26, 25-16. -- Photo by Noah Rohlfing

One year after beating Springville in the quarterfinals of the Class 1A state tournament, No. 6 seed Gladbrook-Reinbeck couldn’t complete a 2-0 comeback and fell short 3-1 at the hands of the Orioles Tuesday night in the Alliant Energy PowerHouse.

The defeat (23-25, 23-25, 26-24, 16-25) ends the Rebels’ season with a 29-14 record, while No. 3 seed Springville moves to 34-4 on the year.

Gladbrook-Reinbeck actually recorded more kills than the Orioles, notching 52 to Springville’s 51 kills. Junior Ava Wyatt had a game-high 20, while senior Kate Clark recorded 12. Emma McClintock assisted on 38 kills.

Wyatt has been thrust into a much larger role this season following the graduation of Saari Kuehl, and playing all around the court has been a tough task to pick up on. But Tuesday, Wyatt said the growing pains were worth it to be able to make a big impact on the team’s chances of success.

“Playing back row is a whole different thing,” Wyatt said. “So playing all the way around, just really had to focus on staying calm and doing what I needed to do for the team.

Gladbrook-Reinbeck junior outside hitter Ava Wyatt (6) tips the ball past Springville defender Nia Howard during Tuesday’s Class 1A state volleyball semifinal match. Wyatt led all players with 20 kills in the Rebels’ four-set loss to the Orioles. -- Photo by Noah Rohlfing

“I’m really proud of how our whole team came together this season. We all took new roles this season and had to adjust.”

The first two sets went similarly, as the Rebels held early leads but couldn’t sustain them. Despite ending the set on a 6-1 run, G-R fell 25-23 in set one. In set two, the match was tied at 21. Three points from the Orioles were followed by a 2-0 run from G-R to get back within one, but a service error ended the set in favor of the Orioles once again.

Rebels head coach Paula Kelley, who has led G-R to state three times in the last four seasons, said the team was half a step behind for much of the night, recording just one block defensively.

“We just really never got into our rhythm that we normally do,” Kelley said. “But that goes with playing against good teams, they make you not be able to get in those rhythms. I think we fought hard given the opportunities that we had, we just didn’t have enough at the end.”

G-R was down 17-10 in set three, but with backs against the wall the Rebels fought back to take the set 26-24 and stay alive. After going behind early in set four, the Rebels just didn’t have enough to push it to five sets. A late run after going behind 20-10 got G-R within 22-16, but the last three points went Springville’s way.

Breehan Dubberke led the team in digs with 13 and Megan Cooley added 10. The Rebels will graduate two key seniors in Katie Clark and Mahayla Olson.

Clark said she has pride in what Olson and herself were able to do during their careers at G-R.

“I think it’s awesome,” Clark said. “I think both of us knew coming in that we were going to have a different role, and we thought it was really awesome that we got to prove that it wasn’t just Saari [Kuehl] who led us to state and that we got to be a part of that.”

Springville went on to defeat North Tama in the 1A semifinals and ultimately fell to Burlington Notre Dame in the championship game 3-1.