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Yekel paces GAR to win over Warriors

Kellie Yekel sets up a pass against Wyoming Area. The GAR senior helped the Grenadiers defeat the Warriors in three games on Tuesday.

Aimee Dilger/The Times Leader

EXETER—Sometimes volleyball comes down to a matter of heart. That’s the way GAR standout Kellie Yekel described the way her team played on Tuesday against Wyoming Area.

“I was really pumped up and we just wanted it more,” said Yekel, who led the Grenadiers to a hard-fought 3-0 victory over the Warriors. The scores were 26-24, 25-22, 25-19.

Yekel, a 5-foot-9 senior middle hitter, has been the heart-and-soul of the Grenadiers team all season. And Tuesday was no different.

She paced GAR (6-12) with eight kills, two blocks, seven aces and nine assists. However, her most important contribution was leadership. Yekel seemed to be at the right place at the right time, throughout the match. And she helped the Grenadiers keep their composure at crunch time in each of the three games.

“Kellie’s a very talented athlete,” said GAR coach Deanna Roulinavage. “She held us together, whether we were ahead or behind. She’s run our offense the entire year.”

If the Grenadiers had an Achilles Heel on Tuesday, it was their erratic service play. Time after time they missed serves after taking short leads in games two and three.

Yekel, meanwhile, kept GAR afloat with her outstanding service play, especially in game one. She started the game with three aces and two service points, and with the help of a Felicia Blaum block, the Grenadiers took a quick 6-0 lead.

Wyoming Area rallied to tie the game at 10-10, but GAR opened a 20-17 lead on two straight Yekel tips, and sealed the deal at 26-24 on a Yekel block and an unforced error.

“We had excellent communication,” said Yekel. “We passed really well and defended the net.”

The Warriors (5-12) led most of game two, to take a seemingly safe 19-14 lead on a service ace by Casey Bohan. GAR stormed back to take a 21-20 lead on an unforced error, and prevailed 25-22 on a Yekel slam.

“We hit great and gave it our all,” Yekel said. “We kept on attacking throughout the match.”

In game three, Wyoming Area took a 14-12 lead on a block by Bohan. GAR again showed resilience by surging ahead, 19-17 on a rocket slam by Yekel and pulled away to a 25-19 win.

The Grenadiers also got a strong performance from senior outside hitter Felicia Blaum, who had 11 kills, three aces and four digs. Malerie Monroe added two kills, six digs and three service points.

Defensively, GAR managed to keep Wyoming Area standout Casey Bohan under control. The 6-foot Bohan paced the Warriors with nine kills, five blocks and seven service points, but never got an opportunity to take over the match.

“We tried to stop Bohan from dominating,” said Yekel. “We were able to figure out where she was going to hit the ball, we dug up a lot of her shots.”

Bohan said Wyoming Area was simply off its game.

“I was pretty impressed with GAR. They pulled together and in the end, we just couldn’t do it.”

Kelly Klaproth had six kills and three blocks for the Warriors, and Biz Easton had 15 assists and three aces.

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