CONRAD - Gladbrook-Reinbeck's answer to cool off a red-hot Gilbert?
Call it 'Rebel Stew.'
Gladbrook-Reinbeck had five hitters finish with between nine and 11 kills on its way to a thrilling five-game victory over Gilbert Friday in the Class 2A Region 5 volleyball semifinals.
The Rebels resuscitated their season with a late surge in a 25-27, 25-13, 19-25, 25-23, 15-10 victory at BCLUW High School.
Gladbrook-Reinbeck (26-9) advances to Tuesday's regional final against conference rival Grundy Center back in Conrad at 7 p.m.
The Tigers (27-10) entered the regional semifinals having won 10 in a row and over the last seven had not lost a game.
Gilbert features 6-foot-4 Taylor Mirka in the middle so it was imperative for the Rebels to keep her guessing who was going to be hitting.
"We couldn't let (Mirka) know where we were going to set to, that was our game plan and it worked because our balanced attack makes that happen," said Gladbrook-Reinbeck head coach Marcia Koester. "If we only had one strong hitter, we wouldn't have been able to take her out.
"She was watching that ball wondering where it's going to go and had no idea where it was going."
"We knew we couldn't put it in her hands," Koester added. "The couple times we did, she got the block on us."
Addi Kickbush and Emily Stoakes led G-R with 11 kills apiece. Jenna Roeding finished with 10 kills, while Emily Dinsdale and Shannon Boyle had nine apiece.
"When one hitter doesn't have it, the other hitters take the slack," Boyle said. "We all work together."
Jill Schildroth had 44 assists on the night for the Rebels.
"Jill is our consistent player every night, getting the ball in the hands where we needed it to go," Koester said. "She did great job of keeping it away from No. 11 (Mirka)."
After dropping the opener, 27-25, Gladbrook-Reinbeck jumped out early in game two and controlled throughout to win 25-13.
Gilbert used a 6-0 surge midway through game three to take a 25-19 win to put the Rebels on the brink of elimination. Gladbrook-Reinbeck faced a 22-20 hole late in game four.
That's when things turned in G-R's favor.
"They were bound and determined to not go home tonight," Koester said. "They got in that timeout and said, 'We are not going home' and fought through that game."
A block-kill by Gilbert's Kenzie Hosch put the Tigers ahead 23-20, but the Rebels countered with a 5-0 run to force game five. Stoakes and Boyle had back-to-back kills and the wave of momentum was all G-R blue.
"I can tell we stayed positive, which is different from the previous years," Boyle said.
The Rebels never trailed in game five. Roeding, Kickbush and Stoakes each had kills in the late going in a 15-10 win.
"I think the momentum from winning that fourth game took us right into the fifth game, we never trailed and we never were going to let them in the game," Koester said.
Erin Wentzien had a team-high 16 digs for the Rebels.
"Erin had a wonderful night tonight, she dug up balls that I haven't seen her dig up all year," Koester said. "She played outstanding tonight and did a lot to let our team score."
One of the key points of the fourth game was Wentzien digging up a Gilbert kill attempt and Wentzien ended up with a kill on the play to tie things at 23-all.
Kickbush and Stoakes added 15 digs apiece and also both had two service aces. Boyle's four blocks were a team-high.
Another key assist for G-R came from its cheering section.
"Everybody was just fired up," Boyle said. "I think that got the other team down a little bit. Our crowd was loud, it made it fun."
Michaela Gibson finished with 12 kills for Gilbert, while Mirka had 11.
Grundy Center is 2-0 this season against Gladbrook-Reinbeck with sweeps on Oct. 2 and Oct. 12. Tuesday's winner advances to the state tournament Nov. 10-13 in Cedar Rapids.