Tallapoosa Volleyball Tournament

Reeltown's Lauren Mask (12) at the Tallapoosa County Volleyball tournament between the Dadeville tigers, Reeltown rebels and Horseshoe Bend generals at Dadeville High School in Dadeville, Ala on Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. [Jake Arthur/ Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc.]

One word defined Reeltown volleyball’s 2-0 victory over Horseshoe Bend: consistency.

There wasn’t much flash to the Rebels’ play during the match Saturday. Impenetrable blocks and emphatic spikes didn’t litter their game.

The match was part of the Tallapoosa County Championship tournament, and as much was reflected in head coach Kelli Hilyer’s picks for the All-County team. Two back-line heavy players were recognized in libero Lauren Mask and left-side hitter Brekia Riley.

Regardless, the steady play of Reeltown’s six secured 25-12 and 25-20 game victories over the Generals to grab the Rebels’ second win of the season.

“I’m trying to come up with some good words other than ‘consistent,’ because I feel like that’s just what they played like,” Hilyer said. “They were very consistent out there.”

Reeltown’s day started with a 2-0 loss against Dadeville, knocking them out of title competition at the three-team tournament. 

Between matches, Hilyer urged her team to rally together.

“I said, ‘Y’all need to come together and decide what it is you need to do on the court to turn this around,’” Hilyer said. “At the beginning of the season, we lost a few matches and at one of our practices I and coach Monroe sat down with them and said what we felt, then had them turn around and say what they felt about it. Then they turned around and won the next match they played. So I had that approach with them this time as well.”

Senior opposite hitter Dasia Keith grabbed momentum by the handful for Reeltown in its first set against Horseshoe Bend, giving the team an initial lead with a kill early on before collecting three service aces during an eight-point run for the Rebels.

They led 17-7 after the outburst. 

“It always helps when you have somebody back there that gets the serve in and is consistent and strong with it,” Hilyer said. “It tends to allow our girls to feel more comfortable, because you get a little cushion to play with.”

Outside a number of other aces on serve, Reeltown’s approach mainly centered around keeping rallies alive long enough for Horseshoe Bend to make a mistake.

The Generals lost six seniors from 2020 and don’t have any on this year’s squad. A few passes hit the floor due to miscommunication, and issues on serve receive hurt their efforts both against Dadeville and Reeltown.

“It’s just something that we’ve gotta continue to work on in practice, continue to get game experience,” Horseshoe Bend head coach Julie Turner said. “One of the things that we need to work on is communication. A lot of these girls have not been together, working on the court together in game-like situations. They’ve gotta learn how each other plays.”

Keeping rallies alive was the foundation of what Mask and Riley did for the Rebels Saturday.

As the team’s defensive specialist, Mask served as a nuisance to enemy hitters, digging out spikes at all areas of the floor.

“She’s done great this year, leading our back row and stepping up and making sure the defense is locked down,” Hilyer said.

Riley’s versatility, service game and similar levels of defensive acumen to that of Mask’s have been an asset to the Rebels, Hilyer said.

“Brekia recently, and today, she’s been a left-side (back), and she’s played all the way around for us,” Hilyer said. “Every now and then we’ll sub in for her, but she’s been consistent with her serving as well.”

Reeltown hits the floor looking for its next victory at Central Coosa Tuesday.

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