Role change: Two successful Rebels chip in during win over LP

Published 9:54 pm Tuesday, October 3, 2023

It was a hectic environment for the Southland volleyball team, but the Rebels stayed resilient and a couple of athletes with big-time state experience in other sports helped them prevail in a 25-14, 25-14, 25-17 in Lyle Tuesday.

Senior Diann Smith, who has taken second place at two girls state wrestling meets, put down a big kill to put Southland up 16-13 in the final game and sophomore Breeley Galle, who won a state title with the GMLOKS 4 x 200-meter relay team last spring, tipped a kill to put the Rebels up 18-13 in that game.

While Smith and Galle have been vastly successful in other sports, they are closer to role players in volleyball, and Southland head coach Michelle Nelsen is thrilled to have them on board.

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“I wasn’t sure what kind of role Diann would play this year because she just started playing a couple of years ago, but she’s been a welcome surprise,” Nelsen said. “She’s been a tall block and she’s got a nice vertical. Breeley is naturally athletic as well and she really helps us in the strong block and is a big middle hitter.”

Smith is used to practicing with the boys in the wrestling room, but she has fostered an appreciation for volleyball over the past few years. She’s also gained a lot of new skills.

“I’ve enjoyed this a lot and I’ve learned a lot,” Smith said. “I like it a lot because I’m with the girls and I get to be myself.”

Galle is as comfortable on the volleyball court as she is on the track and she chases the thrill of putting down a big hit. She finished with 2.5 blocks against L-P (1-18 overall).

“Compared to track, it’s a much more closed space and it’s louder. It gets me more hyped up,” Galle said. “I like hitting at people and I like blocking too.”

The match was played in a packed Pacelli Gym and the Athletics took a 3-0 lead in the second game as their young roster hustled throughout the night. Southland (9-6 overall) eventually took over the second game when Katelyn McCabe served six straight points to make it 16-8.

Nelsen said her team is well accustomed to playing in a rowdy environment.

“Southland fans in general have been supportive so our gym gets pretty loud as well, although this one echoes a little bit more,” she said. “I think our kids feed off that noise and they’ve gotten good about communicating through it.”

L-P’s young players stepped up throughout the night and eighth grader Grace Bauer made a big splash in the final game when she delivered back-to-back kills to bring L-P within 15-13.

Galle said that L-P will be a team to compete with in the future.

“Even though they’re young, we know they’ll be a pretty tough team,” Galle said. “In the years to come, they’ll be good.”

Southland stats: Katelyn McCabe, 15 digs, 8 kills; Maren Wehrenberg, 13 set assists; Julia Kiefer, 11 set assists; Breeley Galle, 2.5 blocks; Abby Sorgatz, 11 digs, 3 ace serves; Ava Payne, 10 digs

LP stats: Autumn Drennan, 9 set assists, 2 kills, 2 aces, 4 digs; Jada Leif, 5 kills, 2 aces, 9 digs; Carleigh Rymer, 7 digs; Grace Bauer, 3 kills, 1 solo block, 1 dig; Kate Rauen, 22 digs; Avari Drennan, 2 kills, 6 digs; Morgan Klankowski, 1 kill; Elisabeth Wilde, 1 ace; Audrey Wilde, 1 ace, 4 digs