Rebels rebound to beat Rushford/Peterson

Published 11:27 pm Tuesday, September 23, 2008

ADAMS — The Southland volleyball team made some early adjustments to get a four-game win over Rushford/Peterson (10-5 overall) in Adams Tuesday.

The Rebels (8-8-3 overall, 2-4 Three Rivers) trailed most of the first game, but had a chance to tie it after a kill by Katie Barthel made it 23-34. However, Southland was called for a violation and R/P took the first game 25-23.

In the second game the Rebels looked like a different team as they jumped out to a 17-10 lead and went on to win 25-14. Southland took the third game 25-18, and won the clincher 25-16.

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“It was exciting,” Southland head coach Angie Smith said. “They were actually hitting everything and they weren’t relying on the tip just to be safe. We were aggressive.”

The change in the Rebels play was kickstarted by Southland’s defense. In game one, R/P’s Kenzie Lind had five kills and Jackie Holger had three kills and two block kills. But Southland keyed on those two the rest of the way.

“We moved our defense around to cover their two big hitters in the middle,” Smith said. “Then we just started passing the ball and putting it down.”

Barthel, who had 14 assists, eight kills, nine digs, and one ace serve, said that once the Rebels identified R/Ps hitters, it made it easier to defend them.

“We knew where to go on defense to cover corners and lines,” she said. “We play a game called three C’s. It’s called coverage, communication and celebration so we just came out and did that.”

Once the Rebels defense got going, they’re hitting became contagious. Besides Barthel, Chelsey Smith hit strong with seven kills, two ace blocks and 18 digs, and Amber O’Connell had six kills to go with her 19 digs. Jenna Juenger stepped up big at the end of the third game as she helped turn a 21-17 game into an easy win by spiking down two of Southland’s last four points.

“Once one person gets going, we all go,” Chelsey Smith said. “Jenna was amazing tonight, then Amber, Hilary (Johnson), and Katie and I all get pumped up together.”

Smith said it is quite common for her team to rally around each other.

“When they’re high, they’re way up there,” she said. “They all catch on.”

The Rebels were also motivated by a homecoming crowd that packed Southland’s gym.

“It was good motivation having a lot of fans for homecoming,” Smith said. “We always want to win then.”

Emily Howton had 13 assists, four kills, four digs, two ace blocks and one ace serve, and Whitney Yunker had 14 digs for Southland.

The win was a relief for the Rebels as they had been swept in their previous two contests.

“It was good to go out and get a win after losing two,” Barthel said.