Spartans back on track, beat Rebels 3-0

Jake Ryder

GRUNDY CENTER – One loss isn't going to slow down the Grundy Center volleyball team.
The Class 2A No. 1 Spartans quickly regrouped for Tuesday's clash with 1A No. 12 Gladbrook-Reinbeck, utilizing key scoring runs to dispatch the Rebels in straight sets at Grundy Center High School.
Grundy Center (27-1, 4-0 NICL West) won 25-15, 25-15, 25-11. The Rebels dropped to 19-5 overall and 3-2 in league play.
After Saturday's loss to 5A No. 7 Dowling Catholic in the semifinals of the Tiger Invitational at Cedar Falls, Grundy Center head coach Lori Willis noted the girls had a chance to regroup and refocus.
"I think they wanted to have a perfect season," Willis said. "But I think they were looking past Dowling because they wanted to play Cedar Falls, and they all admitted it. ... You gotta take it one match at a time, and we talked about making sure we'd be in the moment tonight, ... focusing on the now."
G-R took a 10-9 lead in the first set on a Saari Kuehl kill but an 11-1 run flipped the momentum to the Spartans. Grundy Center junior Frannie Brown – second on the team in ace serves with 24 entering Tuesday – was on the service line for a six-point stretch as the Spartans salted away the first game.
"We talked on Saturday that we just need to play for the person next to us and realize that we're doing this for each other, not ourselves," Brown said. "Just gotta treat everyone like family and be loving and caring for everyone."
Hitting errors and serving errors plagued the Rebels in the second game, and the Spartans locked in late with a six-point run to take the 2-0 lead, including kills from Abby Hamann, Emerson Kracht and Kylie Willis.
Grundy Center jumped out to a 9-4 lead in the third set to set the Spartans well on their way to an NICL West sweep and a 63rd-consecutive league victory.
G-R's Saari Kuehl, second in the state in Class 1A with 262 kills entering Tuesday's game, finished with 10 kills and 18 digs for the Rebels, with the Spartans keying in on the big-swinging sophomore.
"We were able to adjust our block a bit to slow Saari down and we funnelled the ball to Kyah [Luhring] and she was doing a great job of digging her," Willis said. "We started serving really aggressive and making them move so we could get them out of system and better predict where they were going with the ball."
Alyssa Morgan added 17 digs for the Rebels and Madison Denny-Weber had 15 assists and two ace serves.
"We knew it'd be an uphill battle, but we wanted to play well," G-R head coach Paula Kelley said. "There were spurts of that where we got something going, got excited, but a good team like Grundy will put you on your heels more than you want."
For the full story, see next week's (Oct. 4) Grundy Register. Subscribe by calling (319) 824-6958 or clicking here. 

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