CEDAR RAPIDS — No. 4 Gladbrook-Reinbeck wasn’t fooled by the record.
The Rebels saw what Council Bluffs St. Albert did to upset top-ranked Janeville in the Class 1A state quarterfinals.
They came out focused in the first set, used a 9-0 run to rally in the second and regained control in the third to dispatch the Saintes, 25-20, 25-23, 25-17 in a 1A semifinal Wednesday night at Alliant Energy PowerHouse.
Next up for Coach Paula Kelley’s 34-2 team is a championship matchup Thursday at 8 p.m. against Burlington Notre Dame, which downed Le Mars Gehlen in its semifinal.
Unranked St. Albert finishes at 15-14.
Kelley said her team respected the Saintes, especially after watching them in the quarterfinals.
“We came early and we watched them play Janesville,” Kelley said. “We knew that they had a lot of firepower and we were ready. When you get down to the state tournament everybody is good.”
St. Albert was strong at the net against Janesville, but struggled with Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s crew up front, led by Saari Kuehl. The 6-foot-0 senior finished with 16 kills and 21 digs.
“Yes, we were good up front, but it all starts with passing,” Kelley said. “Once we get our passing going, our hitting really comes through. We had them out of system a lot, so they didn’t get as many attacks.”
After winning the first set 25-20, the Rebels fell behind 13-7 before taking off on a 9-0 scoring binge that resulted in a 25-23 win.
“We showed a lot of good things coming back in that set,” Kelley said.
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Gladbrook-Reinbeck then broke away midway through the third set to finish off the sweep. The Rebels will be out for their first state title on Thursday.
“It’s just a great feeling to get to this point,” Kelley said. “We’re honored to still be playing at this point and going for the state title.”
Ava Wyatt added 11 kills for the Rebels and Emma McClintock had 35 assists. Allie Petry and Lauren Williams led St. Albert with 11 kills each.