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Colts block Rebels rally

For almost two games, it seemed the 1A volleyball powerhouse Rich Rebels could stay with, maybe even beat, 5A's second-ranked Cottonwood.

Then the Colts decided to start blocking.

"They're the best blocking team we've seen all season," said Rich coach Cindy Stuart. "They're just great defensively."

The Colts won the non-region match in four games, 21-25, 25-23, 25-18, 25-12. In the first game and a half, Cottonwood had trouble blocking the outside hit and the weak-side hit. But Cottonwood made some adjustments that included substituting a taller player for the setter on front row, and that almost shut down the Rich hitters.

Colt middle blocker Jennifer Johnson had a great game with 15 kills and four solo blocks. She recently made a verbal commitment to play volleyball for UNLV and her coach said she's playing better than ever.

"It's kind of made her a little more relaxed," said Cottonwood coach Bob Berrett. "I encouraged her to get it as much out of the way as possible. She's very happy, and you can tell by her play."

Johnson was all smiles when asked about her commitment to the Rebels.

"I'm excited," she said with a grin. Johnson chose UNLV after two visits and because of its nursing program. Berrett said it's also close enough to home that if she gets homesick, she can visit friends and family.

He said playing Rich High on Monday was helpful for several reasons, but most importantly because the team had to make changes to their initial game-plan in order to compete with the Rebels.

"When we get to state, we're going to have to make adjustments quickly," he said. "I think we did a pretty good job of adjusting the way we need to."

Stuart's team had some impressive moments, also, with Stephanie Floyd leading the offense with 17 kills, while Amanda Peart added 13 kills. Setter Shalee Shupe earned 45 assists in the loss.