Third-ranked Rebels fall to No. 1 Redhawks

Gladbrook-Reinbeck volleyball team endures gauntlet of a schedule to start the season 5-3

The Rebels’ front line – Kennedy Brant (14) and Ava Wyatt (6) – pictured during Saturday’s semifinal match of the North Tama Tournament in Traer. Setter Emma McClintock (3) looks on for the Rebels. PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

A nailbiter of a debut as the top-ranked volleyball team in Class 1A didn’t carry for North Tama.

Instead, the Redhawks played their best yet, even though they had to settle for second place.

North Tama knocked off HLV, Independence and 2A No. 12 Grundy Center in pool play before fighting off 1A No. 3 Gladbrook-Reinbeck in the championship semifinals.

Grundy Center came back to sweep the Redhawks in the tournament title match, but North Tama felt no shame following its first loss of the season. In fact, it instilled a strange amount of belief for a traditional small-class powerhouse.

“If you would have told me after these first two loaded weeks that we were 11-1, I don’t know if I would have believed you,” said North Tama head coach Channing Halstead. “I know we have it in us, but to leave here with one loss?

Rebels senior middle blocker Megan Cooley (17) pictured during Saturday’s semifinal match of the North Tama Tournament in Traer. Cooley notched five kills and seven digs against the No. 1 Redhawks.

“Grundy Center turned it on when they needed to — they were better at the end of the day. I told the girls I don’t expect them to go 50-0, but I’m beginning to believe in them. I mean, I do, but I’m beginning to believe in them more.”

North Tama tallied a three-set win over No. 5 Ankeny Christian Academy to win the Meskwaki Tournament the opening weekend, but Grundy Center proved to be too much the second time around. The Redhawks (11-1) rolled through HLV (21-4, 21-8), rallied past Independence (17-21, 21-18, 15-5) and swept the Spartans (21-14, 21-18) to win their pool and set up a showdown with neighbor and archrival Gladbrook-Reinbeck in the semifinals.

G-R v. North Tama

After dropping a back-and-forth opening set, the Rebels (5-3) romped to a 21-12 lead in game two. It was 23-14 after consecutive kills by Ava Wyatt, but North Tama scored five straight — and eight of the next nine — to climb to within 24-22. Megan Cooley’s kill finished the set and forced a deciding third, but the Redhawks’ comeback built up more momentum than Gladbrook-Reinbeck could withstand.

North Tama took a modest early advantage before a 3-0 spurt proved too much for the Rebels to come back from. Briar Blake scored a kill, Izzy Hallett had a service ace and Shae Ewoldt hammered down a kill to make it 12-6 in the first-to-15 decider. Another Ewoldt kill, a block by Lainey Willenbring and a net violation by the Rebels rounded out the Redhawk victory.

“I thought we came ready to play,” said G-R head coach Paula Kelley. “I thought at times we were playing a little bit more on our heels than I would have liked, but we came back strong and really took it to them in game two. We let them back in a little bit there at the end, which I think let them have the momentum. I really wish we could have closed the door a little bit better.”

It closed a 2-2 day and a 2-3 week for the Rebels, who won their opening tournament in Montezuma only to find a four-set defeat in Thursday’s NICL West Division opener at 2A No. 10 South Hardin.

G-R finished second in its pool to 3A No. 9 Union Community with a 21-19, 21-17 loss to the Knights in the first match of the day. The Rebels outlasted 1A No. 4 Dunkerton (21-7, 11-21, 15-12) and held off previously ranked AGWSR (21-11, 17-21, 15-12) before bowing to nemesis North Tama in the semifinals.

Wyatt led the Rebels with 37 kills for the day, adding 17 digs and 24-for-26 serving with two aces. Megan Cooley accumulated 26 kills and team-highs of five blocks and 23 digs while serving 37-for-39 with eight aces. Lily Dripps chipped in 13 kills and four blocks, Kennedy Brant tallied 10 kills and two blocks, and setter Emma McClintock totaled 78 assists and 21 digs.

Madisyn Eggers stepped in to serve 38-for-38 with two aces, and Abby Sienknecht was 35-for-35 with two aces. Both made 16 digs, and libero Breehan Dubberke added 15 digs and five aces.

The Redhawks’ only match this week is a rematch with No. 3 Gladbrook-Reinbeck on Thursday in Reinbeck.

“I’m sure they’ll be out for blood,” Halstead added. “We exposed a lot of their weaknesses today so we’ll see if they fix them come Thursday or not.

“Being No. 1 is scary because the only way to go is down. It’s just a different view and we’re learning and I thought today with the competition we did a pretty good job of proving we are deserving to be in that top-3.”

North Tama Tournament, Traer

Red Pool

North Tama def. HLV, 21-4, 21-8

Grundy Center def. Independence, 21-9, 21-12

North Tama def. Independence, 17-21, 21-18, 15-5

Grundy Center def. HLV, 21-15, 21-5

Independence def. HLV, 21-10, 21-11

North Tama def. Grundy Center, 21-14, 21-18

White Pool

Union def. Gladbrook-Reinbeck, 21-19, 21-17

AGWSR def. Dunkerton, 19-21, 21-19, 15-12

Union def. AGWSR, 21-16, 23-21

Gladbrook-Reinbeck def. Dunkerton, 21-7, 11-21, 15-12

Gladbrook-Reinbeck def. AGWSR, 21-11, 17-21, 15-12

Union def. Dunkerton, 16-21, 21-17, 16-14

Consolation Bracket


AGWSR def. Independence, 25-13, 25-16

Dunkerton def. HLV, no score

Consolation Championship

AGWSR def. Dunkerton, 25-19, 25-14

Championship Bracket


North Tama def. Gladbrook-Reinbeck, 25-19, 22-25, 15-8

Grundy Center def. Union, 25-6, 25-13

Championship Final

Grundy Center def. North Tama, 27-25, 25-18