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Redhawks’ State hopes crushed by Gladbrook-Reinbeck

November 3, 2018
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Traer Star-Clipper

A second strong season for the Redhawk volleyball team came to an abrupt end at the hands of rival Gladbrook-Reinbeck sweeping North Tama in Traer on Thursday, Oct. 25.

"I think anyone who's watched us all season could see we didn't play well in any aspect of the game," coach Channing Halstead said. "We had offensive woes because we couldn't serve or pass well. I told them before the game the winner would be whoever does both better."

The Rebels quickly demonstrated they could serve and pass better than the home team, taking an early 10-7 lead in the first quarter and never surrendering it as errors and missed serves kept the Redhawks down and unable to rally. Taking the first set 25-18 behind a loud, supportive traveling crowd, the momentum continued for GR into the second set as they claimed dominance 25-17.

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Katie Kopriva had nine kills, five digs and two assists in the lose against the Gladbrook-Reinbeck Rebels on Thursday, Oct. 25 to end another huge season for the junior.

"I thought we handled tip coverage well because that was a huge focus for us going into this game," Halstead said. "Serving was also something we worked on heavily, but it was obviously an issue for us. We couldn't get ourselves into any type of rhythm offensively. We'd go one or two points and then have a missed serve follow. It wasn't a problem in practice and I felt we would have success in the match."

Down 2-0 and in danger of seeing their season come to an end at the hands of an opponent they'd beaten three times prior this season, the Redhawks fought back in the third set. After taking a 13-12 lead for the first time on the night, a close battle ensued between the two familiar rivals. In the final possession of the match, errors returned for the Redhawks and the Rebels struck the final blow to win 25-23 and end a season filled with promise for North Tama.

"We decided it was do or die and I told them to play at their best," Halstead said. "We tried to reach our potential again with more firepower. We had a two point lead and had a call not go our way. If we had won that set, our confidence would have been back."

The sea of blue celebrated after taking blows themselves from the Redhawks all season, including a 21-4 loss in the very same gym earlier in the season. Defensively, the Rebels were able to keep volleys alive and offensively Saari Kuehl lead GR with 12 kills, punching their ticket to the Regional Final against fellow upset Ar-We-Va.

"GR had lots of energy and were ready to give it their all," Halstead said. "I absolutely believed they played out of their mind, 100 percent. At the same time, I don't think we could have played any worse. Any close calls went their way. They served us really hard and our rhythm was ruined because of it."

Katie Kopriva led the Redhawks with nine kills, five digs, two assists and went six of seven serving. A bright spot on a heartbreaking night was Abby DeBoef with six kills and four digs, followed by Karly Jans with four kills and four digs in her final game as a Redhawk. Isabel Sierra had 16 assists in the game and Katelyn Kucera went 12 of 15 serving with four aces. Takoa Kopriva talled 11 digs and went 11 of 12 serving.

"After the game, I really didn't know what to say," Halstead said. "For a lot of girls on the team, volleyball is life. It's not just about the fact you got upset in the postseason, but also the fact you're done playing volleyball every day for awhile. I'm very much the same way and it's hard to say anything when you're upset. Once everything calmed down, we all agreed that one game can't define our 26-8 season. We lost to the number one team twice and to large ranked opponents from larger schools. We had to look at the bigger picture of being the number five team in 1A, made it to our conference championship and won tournaments. It was a good season."

The program will lose Jans and Carissa Calderwood to graduation after helping to lead the Redhawks to the State tournament last year and another successful regular season in 2018.

"Jans is a lot of firepower we are going to lose as our sixth rotation player," Halstead said. "Carissa's injury hampered her this season and I hate to let her go after that. She bought into our culture of defense and was important to us with how we wanted to play."

The Redhawks look to be even better next year with their current sophomores and juniors returning in 2019. Halstead also hopes to get Grace Thorsen more involved with their offense next season.

"She's a really nice player that hasn't been around our program as long," Halstead said. "Our sophomores and juniors are really talented groups that play well together and have been through a lot of success. No one is going to want to feel like we did after this loss again."

In addition to those classes, the current freshman class will push for more minutes next season. The Class of 2023 will also be in the mix for varsity with several positions as well.

"That class also lives and breathes volleyball like our juniors too," Halstead said. "They've have a really successful junior high season and want to be involved in winter ball to be a part of this success. The freshman worked really hard this season, working on their attacking and serve-receive, which are two areas we'll need going forward these next several years. There is talent in those two classes. It will just be about piecing them together."

When August rolls around once again, expect the 2019 Redhawks to aim for the State Tournament again as they look to challenge Janesville and Tripoli for a conference title. Check out photos from the match at



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