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Rebels with a championship

Anyone who was driving through Slayton Tuesday evening might have thought that Hurricane Wilma had dramatically shifted to the northern plains. But rather than the weather producing the thunder, it was the sound of battle from the Murray County C...

Anyone who was driving through Slayton Tuesday evening might have thought that Hurricane Wilma had dramatically shifted to the northern plains.

But rather than the weather producing the thunder, it was the sound of battle from the Murray County Central Rebels and the Southwest Christian Eagles vying for the Red Rock Conference volleyball title.

In dramatic fashion, the Rebels (18-4-1) came back to edge the Eagles (22-2-1) for their third consecutive championship, 22-25, 25-22, 19-25, 25-19, 15-10.

"These girls have come from behind so many times and I knew they had it in them," MCC head coach Becky Halbur said. "As long as we could control the ball and get it to our hitters I knew we could do it."

After trailing 2-1 in games, the Rebels pulled themselves off the bench and struck hard to tie the match 2-all.

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In fifth and deciding game, the Rebels used aggressive net play to jump out to a 9-2 lead and never looked back.

"We were really pushing them deep on the serve in the fifth game," leading MCC server Darielle Gengler said. "We tried to push it to our middle hitters because they were so strong tonight."

But both teams were swinging for the fences, with Kelsey Van Dyke leading the charge for the Eagles and Gengler and Rachel Christiansen countering for the Rebels.

Behind Van Dyke and Rebecca Schelhaas, the Eagles took control of Game 1 and finished off the Rebels by winning crucial jousts at the net.

Game 2 was won by the Rebels with precision serving and a knack for finding open space.

Trailing 3-7 in the third, Christiansen managed to pull her team even with a hard, flat serve that kept the Eagles on their heels. But SWC turned things around with some well-timed strikes by Kayla Kreun, taking the game 25-19.

Timely dink shots and high-velocity kills by Gengler and Christiansen paved the way for the Rebels to bring the match to a fifth game finale.

"They had all the momentum going into the fifth game," SWC head coach Sy Schaap said. "They were really pumped and Darielle and Rachel took their game to the next level. We just couldn't stop them."

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Christiansen led the Rebels offensively with 17 kills and six ace blocks on the evening. Jenny Starken was the defensive star, digging 22 balls.

Emily Counter was the key playmaker for the Rebels, garnering 27 set assists, while Gengler served 26-of-28 with five aces and 19 points.

Van Dyke led the Eagle charge with 16 kills for the match. Schelhaas was a tyrant at the net, notching eight blocks.

Tiffany Van't Hof turned in a match-high 42 set assists to go along with 14 serving points, while Jenna Snyder was the Eagle's defensive leader with 20 digs.

Both teams will begin postseason play on Oct. 28, with SWC against either Hills-Beaver Creek or Adrian, while the Rebels face off against Mountain Lake-Butterfield-Odin.

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