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GMG rides momentum past GR

October 31, 2016
ADAM RING , Reinbeck Courier

GARWIN - All too often, the sport of volleyball is a game of runs and weathering the storm when things aren't going one's way.

Monday night was no different. Gladbrook-Reinbeck got up early and fast on GMG. The Wolverines battled back, but the Rebels held on to take the first set. Roles reversed in set two, and GMG rode the momentum the rest of the night to victory.

After dropping the first set, the Wolverines roared back to take the next three and the win against the Rebels in Class 1A Region 4 quarterfinal play 21-25, 25-15, 25-22, 25-19.

Article Photos

Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s Megan Swanson, left, and Paige Eiffler, right, team up to try to block the kill attempt of GMG’s Josie Claassen (3) Monday in Garwin. G-R won the first set, but GMG won the next three to take the match in four.
Photo by Adam Ring

"They had to fight through just years of getting beat in tournaments right away," said GMG coach Adam Bauder. "This is new territory for all them. Second round is new territory. So, they just had to fight through 'OK, we're here' little jitters. Now we can play the game we're supposed to play. They didn't play like they could in the first set. They figured right away early on in the second set."

What happened in the third set might have been a sign it was simply GMG's (16-9) night. With the Rebels (8-27) leading the set 13-10, the Wolverines attempted to return a G-R serve. The bump sailed high, hit and rolled off the top of a light fixture at the top of the gymnasium. When the volleyball found its way back to earth, McKensie Vaske was forced to attempt to send the ball to the other side over her back. Not only was she successful in her no-look attempt, the ball found no man's land for the GMG point.

Earlier in the third set, Blaire Sonderleiter went low to dig out a Rebel kill attempt. Not only did the GMG senior protect her team's side of the floor, Sonderleiter's dig got such force under it that the ball was returned to the other side of the net, freezing an unexpecting Rebel squad, and the Wolverines collected the point.

"We're undefeated at home this whole season," Bauder said. "It was about time some of those things happening for us. It seems like, as a coach, those things always go against you. When they start going for you I thought, 'Well, we don't do these things, or these things don't usually happen to us. We might have a good shot here.'"

Bauder said the GMG seniors, especially Sonderleiter, took control of the game, and that's what secured the match win for the Wolverines.

"I think Blaire Sonderleiter absolutely was the best player on the entire court tonight," he said. "She showed it in the back row. She showed it in the front row. One of the best things about her is, she missed a few serves, but she's so even keeled, she can be doing this or that, being great or being down and it's not going to affect her."

Though things didn't always fall GMG's way Monday night. The Rebels jumped out to a lead of 8-1, thanks in part to a pair of aces from Haleigh Berendes. GMG fought back to tie thing 10-all, but the Rebels would take a 5-point lead 17-12. GMG again would tie things at 18, but never again saw the lead in the first.

Returning the favor in the second set, GMG jumped out to a 10-1 lead. G-R would go on mini runs to get back within as much as five, but the GMG lead was doubled at 20-10 and 22-11 that helped the Wolverines to take the set. Things stayed pretty even in the third before things started to bounce GMG's way. The Rebels even held a 16-11 advantage after back-to-back aces from Maddie Frischmeyer, but that's when GMG took over.

Three kills from Sonderleiter and a pair of aces from Vaske helped the Wolverines square things 17-all. Back-and-forth the two teams went until two straight kills from Josie Claassen and an ace by Kelsey Vaverka closed out the set.

The fourth set was even through 11-all, but whenever G-R threatened to try to break away, that's when a kill or a block would come from Sonderleiter, or a kill from Claassen or an ace by Vaverka. Sonderleiter closed out the night, securing the final two points.

Claassen led the Wolverines with 14 kills, and Sonderleiter added 13. Senior Katie Airey dished out 31 assists. Sonderleiter had three and Vaverka also had three of the team's 10 aces.

Up next for GMG is a trip to Hudson to take on the No. 2 Pirates (31-4) Thursday at 7 p.m. in the region semifinals. Hudson is led by Kiley DeBerg, who as 551 kills this season, which ranks second in the state among all classes. Hudson swept GMG at a triangular 25-17, 25-10 in Dunkerton back on Aug. 25.

"Practices are going to be high intensity and fast," Bauder said snapping his fingers. "Do our things sharp, and game plan a few things to hopefully slow down ... there's no way you're going to stop their middle. But we have a couple solid middles ourselves. If we can get them to believe to not match her, but play with her, I think we can possibly give them some problems."



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