CEDAR RAPIDS — This wasn’t the time to reconstruct a rotation.
But the Springville Orioles had no choice. Thanks for nothing, COVID-19.
Saari Kuehl collected 19 kills, a good share of them from the back row, to lead fourth-ranked Gladbrook-Reinbeck to a Class 1A state quarterfinal sweep of the short-handed Orioles, 25-9, 26-24, 25-11, Tuesday night at the Alliant Energy PowerHouse.
“Our whole team really brought it tonight,” Kuehl said. “We want to take this as far as we can.”
Gladbrook-Reinbeck (33-2) faces Council Bluffs St. Albert (15-13) — an upset winner over No. 1 Janesville — in a semifinal at 8 p.m. Wednesday.
The pivotal moment of this one is glaring. Down 18-14 in the second set, No. 7 Springville (27-5) played its best ball of the night and gave itself a pair of set points at 24-22.
“We figured some things out and had a lot more energy,” Orioles setter Nia Howard said.
But the Orioles made two attack errors, Kuehl was money on her two attempts, and the set slipped away.
“We had a chance there, but we didn’t have what it takes to finish it off,” Springville’s Kennady Breitfelder said. “We brought the best we could.”
Normally an outside hitter, Breitfelder was moved to the middle Tuesday because normal starter Lily Clark was forced to stay home and quarantine, as was libero Grace Matus. Neither of them have the virus themselves.
“We knew Friday we wouldn’t have Lily, and found out Monday about Grace,” Orioles Coach Claude Howard said.
Certainly, the scramble that went with the lineup changes didn’t help. Either way, Kuehl (aptly pronounced a lot like “kill”) and the Rebels were close to unstoppable at times Tuesday.
After the second-set comeback, G-R scored the first 13 points in Game 3, and it was lights out.
“We made some errors out there, and we couldn’t get over them, and it played into the third set,” Claude Howard said.
“We’ve got a good team, but we’ve got to learn to win here. We can’t give teams easy balls and expect to control the match.”
Kuehl was the headliner, but not the complete show for the Rebels. Ava Wyatt added nine kills, and Emma McClintock posted 33 assists.
“We played fantastic,” G-R Coach Paula Kelley said. “We’ve been practicing at a high level, and it showed today. When we were down in the second set, the girls kept their cool and didn’t panic.”
Springville had 24 attack errors, which neutralized 26 kills. Breitfelder led the Orioles with a nine-kill, no-error match out ofd the middle.
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“I did what I could,” she said. “Nia and I started to connect there, and we worked with it.”
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