REINBECK - There's just something about playing West Marshall that has brought out the best in Emily Stoakes. The Gladbrook-Reinbeck junior upped her career-high in kills - which she had previously set against the Trojans - with 18 successful put-downs during the Rebels' 3-0 sweep in Tuesday's Class 2A Region 5 volleyball opener. West Marshall's otherwise successful second half of the regular season had been stunted only by Gladbrook-Reinbeck (24-9). The Trojans' only losses in the last 14 matches have come against G-R, so it only seemed fitting that the Rebels were there to hand West Marshall (23-9) its final demise in the first round of the postseason. Gladbrook-Reinbeck will host another NICL West Division foe - BCLUW (16-14) - in next Tuesday's quarterfinals in Reinbeck. "I thought the girls did very well tonight, they were definitely hitting hard, probably the best we have overall this season and consistently hitting the ball hard," said G-R head coach Marcia Koester. "The girls did an excellent job of placing the ball where I ask. I'm pleased with our overall performance." The Rebels came to play from the opening serve and seemed to get better throughout the match. West Marshall made its only real challenge at the match during the first game but never came within three points again after the midpoint of game two. A McKenzie Shipley kill got the Trojans to within 10-7 during that second set before the Rebels pulled away behind the serving of senior Jill Schildroth. A pair of Shannon Boyle quick-sets sustained the momentum before Stoakes could get it going again. The junior left-hander had three kills in a 6-0 spurt to put G-R in front, 22-11, and Emily Dinsdale finished off an errant West Marshall dig for the final point of game two. Stoakes' 18 kills surpassed her previous career high of 16, which she set in the Rebels' 3-1 win over West Marshall in their NICL West match Sept. 28 in Reinbeck. The Trojans followed that loss with seven straight victories before getting bumped off by G-R again in the BCLUW Invitational on Oct. 9. Another string of five wins followed for West Marshall to end the regular season. "We didn't serve as aggressive as I'd hoped," said Trojans head coach Mike Eckhardt. "G-R serve-receives a little bit but I don't think we made them move enough." The Trojans didn't do "anything out of the ordinary," Eckhart said, to try and change the result from their previous two meetings with Gladbrook-Reinbeck, but nothing seemed to work for West Marshall. "They moved our blockers, we seemed to be a little slow getting to the outside," Eckhardt added. "And if you send these guys free balls, they'll run some plays on you and then they're getting 1-on-1 blocking or nobody even on them." The Rebels implemented some new wrinkles into their offense, which seemed to benefit Stoakes more than the others. Her 18 kills came with only two swinging errors. Dinsdale finished with eight kills, Jenna Roeding had six, and both Addi Kickbush and Boyle had five. Schildroth totaled 39 assists. Kickbush led with 15 digs, Stoakes had 11, Erin Wentzien seven and Schildroth six, while Boyle led with two blocks. Shipley and Katelynn Sjoblom led West Marshall with six kills apiece, McKenna Hotopp had five and Alexa Hotopp four. Setters Courtney Porter and Taylor Weyer had 14 and seven assists, respectively, and Molly Underwood led with 13 digs. The Trojans had just two service aces, both in game three, with one serving error coming in the second game. "We wanted to try staying aggressive and keep them on defense, but that didn't work because we couldn't serve-receive," Eckhardt added.
Gladbrook-Reinbeck junior Emily Stoakes, left, goes up for the attack against West Marshall senior Alexa Hotopp during the second game of Tuesday’s Class 2A Region 5 volleyball match in Reinbeck. Stoakes had a career-high 18 kills in the Rebel’s 3-0 sweep. Photo by Ross Thede