LE GRAND - The Gladbrook-Reinbeck volleyball team jumped right on stage after only one dress rehearsal, but the audience couldn't tell the difference.
The Rebels racked up 18 service aces in Tuesday's NICL West Division opener, picking their spots in a decisive 3-0 sweep over East Marshall in the Mustangs' home opener, 25-18, 25-13, 25-16.
Gladbrook-Reinbeck (2-0, 1-0), having played only one match prior to the conference opener, looked a little rusty in most facets of the game - except serving. The Rebels still had six service errors but most went almost unnoticed after aces gave G-R a scoring boost against the Mustangs (1-3, 0-1).
Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s Emily Stokes (12) puts up a block in the middle as East Marshall’s Katie Roseland (5) goes for the attack during the third set of Tuesday, September 6 NICL West Division volleyball opener in Le Grand. G-R picked up a 25-18, 25-13, 25-16 triumph.
"We've got more jump-serving than in the past so that's a plus for us," said Rebel head coach Marcia Koester. "We really don't miss too many (serves). Sometimes we do in key spots, but that's OK, we can work on that as the season goes on. Overall we're a pretty strong serving team I feel."
The Rebels had at least five aces in each set and East Marshall never managed much of an attack because of it. The Mustangs' serve-receive struggled to set up the offense and they finished with a total of just 11 kills on the night.
"I don't think we ever got on rhythm," said Mustang head coach Jodi Hinegardner. "We've got to not be scared and go up and hit it hard."
Hinegardner applauded her own team's service percentage but was hoping for more than three aces in the home and conference opener.
East Marshall led only twice throughout the match - 1-0 in the first set and 3-1 in the third. Gladbrook-Reinbeck sputtered to start the third set but got going behind the serve of freshman Shelton Hatch, who ended up 10-for-12 with six aces. Senior outside hitter Addi Kickbush was 25-for-26 with a match-high seven aces.
"We're nowhere near where we need to be, we're young as a group, especially with our setter, and our transition was slow tonight," said Koester. "We still have a lot of work to do, but we're coming along. It seems like every week we're improving so that's a plus."
Emily Stoakes led the Rebels with nine kills, 13 assists and two blocks while adding six digs. Carrie Shouse came to life in the third set to finish with seven kills, while both Kickbush and Emily Dinsdale tallied six kills.
Taylor Flamme added 12 assists, Erin Wentzien led with 16 digs, and Jenna Roeding also contributed two blocks.
"I think it's just getting everybody to get accustomed to where everybody else is on the court and what they're doing, what's their role," Koester said. "We still have girls not knowing that other girl is going to be behind them on defense and they just need to be confident in where everybody is on the court, and we're not there yet."
East Marshall seemed equally distant from 'there' despite having played twice as many matches as the Rebels. The Mustangs were led by Chantel Eicher, who went 12-for-12 serving with two aces and had a team-high three kills. She also made nine digs, while Libero player Alyssa Whitmore led with 11 digs.
"We don't have any easy game out there," Hinegardner said of the NICL West. "We were pretty scrappy tonight, we blocked well and we had a lot of 100-percent servers. But we need to serve tougher."
Karly Long was 11-for-11 serving with an ace, and Katie Roseland was 7-for-7 with an ace. Roseland also led with three blocks, while Abby Nuese had five assists and two kills. Sierra Gage added a solo block and one kill.