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Rebels revel in first round triumph over AGWSR

November 1, 2015
TYLER STRAND - Central Iowa Press , Reinbeck Courier

REINBECK - One final Cougars attack sailed into the net for match point and an eruption of screams broke out across the floor.

The Rebels leaped up and down as if they'd pulled off a major upset.

Sure, they'd already beaten AGWSR twice and won five of six games against their North Iowa Cedar League West Division rivals this fall. But if the first two games were any indication, this was a different and more determined Cougar club that stepped onto their home floor Tuesday.

Article Photos

From left, Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s Hayley Weber (4), Tessa Sienknecht (7), Olivia Charley (5), Lauren Husmann, Marissa Berendes and Leah Holman celebrate Tuesday’s Class 1A Region 5 first-round victory over AGWSR in Reinbeck. The Rebels rallied for a 3-1 victory.
Photo by Tyler Strand

Nearly letting a nine-point lead evaporate to fall into a two-game hole, Gladbrook-Reinbeck escaped a spirited rally from AGWSR to shift the momentum for a 23-25, 25-23, 25-14, 25-19 victory in a Class 1A Region 5 first-round match.

"We just had to regroup and that's one thing that we can do very well," G-R senior Hayley Weber said. "Sometimes it's something we need to work on but in that case we realized we needed to pick it up and I think that really helped not only the second set but it helped us through the other sets as well.

"We play better when we're excited and I think what was so big about this is we really wanted it."

After dropping a tight opening set, the Rebels (15-16) appeared well on their way to tying up the match, opening a seven-point advantage midway through the second and extending it to 24-15.

The Cougars (8-17) had other plans.

Alana Groninga served up back-to-back aces and Rachel Frazier smashed a kill before consecutive attack errors forced a G-R timeout with the lead down to three. Katie Gast had two more blasts to trim the deficit to one as Danielle Clark burned another timeout.

The 8-0 flurry finally ended when Gast's hot hand sent an attack wide to even the match as the reeling Rebels breathed a sigh of relief.

"It was big for the girls to make sure we got that one so that we wouldn't start hanging our heads a little bit," Clark said. "I think it really helped with our energy and their motivation to keep going hard. They knew after that first set that they took from us, they knew that (AGWSR) came to play and that we were going to have to play very hard and harder than I think they anticipated to play.

"I think the girls finally realized no one's going to roll over for them."

Weber tallied 10 kills and 21 digs and Lauren Husmann had 10 kills, four blocks and served 15-of-17 with two aces as the Rebels earned a quarterfinal match at No. 3 Janesville (22-14) next Tuesday.

AGWSR led 3-1 in the third set but G-R unleashed a 7-1 surge and never relinquished the lead. Madeline Mussig's block capped a 5-0 run to extend the margin to 13-7 and the Rebels repeated it after a mini-run from AGWSR to lead 20-11. Weber secured the 2-1 advantage with three kills over the final four points.

The teams traded the first 18 points in game four before G-R took four straight to force a Cougars timeout. G-R built its cushion as high as eight before the Cougars ran off six straight to claw within 19-17. The Rebels took the next four points before closing it out to improve to 3-0 against AGWSR this year.

The opening set was nip-and-tuck nearly the entire way as AGWSR enjoyed its largest lead at 9-6 but neither squad led by more than two the rest of the set. Husmann's pair of aces pushed G-R ahead 17-15 and AGWSR didn't lead again until 23-22. Alana Groninga spiked a ball to force game point at 24-22 and clinched it with one more kill.

"We really talked about the mentality into game one and how we're going to get out of the gate," Cougars co-coach Betsy Harms said. "Game one was what we came here to do, it was phenomenal. Our defensive play and turning into hitting on offense, that really is our game and that was the peak of our game - the best we can play."

Harms applauded her team's comeback in game two but knew her squad put itself in a tough position.

"I was so proud of how the girls fought back in putting back another rally," Harms said. "If that was turned around in game two, the rest of the night might have been a different story.

"We got down in the teens and when you're down 5-6 points it's hard to come back, execute and win against a team that's just as good as you are."

Leah Holman dished out 32 assists for G-R, Sydney Brown came up with 20 digs and Leah Holman finished 23-of-26 on serve with three aces. Marissa Berendes chipped in seven kills with a pair of aces, going 16-for-18, Mussig had four blocks and Tessa Sienknecht contributed six kills.

Gast paced the Cougars with nine kills, while Groninga recorded eight kills, 27 digs and two aces on 12-for-13 serving. Mandy Willems distributed 20 assists and Maddie Brandt tallied six kills. Abbie Young recorded 23 digs and 21-for-21 serving with three aces, while Mel Morones tacked on 19 digs and Reagan Rathe served 17-for-17.



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