CONRAD - The Rebels returned to the top of the standings at the BCLUW Comet Varsity Volleyball Invite, going 5-0 to defend their round-robin tournament title on Saturday.
It took a three-set victory in the last match of the day to determine a champion, as both Gladbrook-Reinbeck and New Hampton had 4-0 records going into the final bout.
Gladbrook-Reinbeck (17-10) claimed last year's Comet Invite crown as their third tournament title of the fall, sweeping through all five matches in 2-0 triumphs. This year's Rebel squad saw some early struggles on Saturday morning, having to bounce back to take down BCLUW in three sets after losing the opener.
The Rebels turned it around from there, sweeping their next eight sets to defeat BCLUW as well as West Marshall, Lynnville-Sully and East Marshall. New Hampton claimed game one on G-R before the Rebels turned the tides for the 19-21, 21-14, 15-11 win.
Gladbrook-Reinbeck led the deciding third set 12-4 at one point and survived a late surge by the Chickasaws (19-9).
"The last game was a good one to end on, it was a tough team for us and we needed that quality play," said G-R head coach Marcia Koester. "And for us to fight back, like we didn't on Tuesday night, our seniors really stepped up today."
The last of G-R's three previous losses came in a five-set, NICL West Division defeat to South Hardin on Tuesday night in Reinbeck in which the Rebels won the first two games.
Gladbrook-Reinbeck got a boost from reserve middle hitter Brooke Boyle on Saturday, as the 5-foot-9 sophomore filled in for an injured Carrie Shouse with eight kills and a team-leading 17 blocks.
"She played really well for stepping into that role today," Koester commended.
Emily Dinsdale and Emily Stoakes both totaled 27 kills on the day to pace the Rebels, and Addi Kickbush tacked on 21 kills and team-highs of 30 digs and 58-for-60 serving with 11 aces. Shelton Hatch served 52-of-55 with eight aces.
Jenna Roeding added 16 kills and 25 digs while serving 23-for-23 with two aces, and Dinsdale had 23 digs and was 26-for-26 serving with three aces.
Stoakes totaled 49 assists and Taylor Flamme added 25 more on an efficient swinging day for the Rebels.
"We've been stressing with our setters that if the pass isn't there, instead of trying to do too much with it, set it to a back-row player who can hit it," said Koester. "Use them, and they will hit it."
"We're still learning, we're still improving and we have a ways to go," Koester added, "but I think down the stretch we can still do it. We have the talent and they showed me today that they want it."
BCLUW's best tournament finish came on the heels of a seven-match losing streak. The loss to G-R made it eight straight, but the Comets took three-setters from conference rivals East and West Marshall and swept Lynnville-Sully to make it a 3-2 day.
The Comets hadn't won a match since Sept. 19, and had only two set victories since that 2-0 sweep of Clarksville in a home triangular.
"We came out and we played really well, right off the bat," said Comet head coach Kristen Garber. "We took G-R a game and even in the next two we played them pretty well. It would have been nice to get the match from them."
"We've got to have the confidence to go up there and swing," she said. "If we have a set, we have to put the ball away."
BCLUW played more sets (13) than any of its guests. Kendall Scurr had a team-high 33 kills, including 11 in a three-set win over West Marshall.
"To take them again was nice, I kind of think they wanted a little revenge on us (from conference) so that was good," Garber said. "That was a battle."
Courtney Amundson finished with 93 assists, with Danielle Montgomery accumulating 29 kills, Maddie Olson 20, Reeba Box 15 and Nicole Montgomery 12.
Danielle Montgomery led with eight blocks and was 46-of-47 serving with six aces, while Nicole Montgomery was 45-for-49 with two aces. Abby Miller had a team-best 43 digs.
"The front row is getting better at staying aggressive," Garber said. "Kendall is so short (5-6) so she has to work hard with every swing she gets."
Nicolette Simpson also got the chance to rotate in at setter in the second game against West Marshall, collecting seven assists as BCLUW started its comeback against the Trojans.
All four area teams return to NICL West action on Tuesday: Gladbrook-Reinbeck hosts Class 2A No. 4 Grundy Center, Regional play begins Oct. 18.