GOOSE LAKE — Slow starts have not been a problem for the Northeast volleyball team.
But the Rebels have had a tougher time finishing off their strong starts.
For the second time in less than a week, Northeast brought a River Valley North foe to the brink in the opening set of their divisional bout.
But in both cases — against Monticello last Thursday and against North Cedar Tuesday night — the Rebels could not get those final points they needed to wrap up the set.
The Knights took advantage, using the momentum of their close two-point win in the opening set to take the next two games as well for a 25-23, 25-11, 25-20 sweep.
The Rebels piled up 29 digs in the bout with senior Miya Messerich leading the way with eight and Jade Lanxon adding six.
Neveah Hildebrandt had four digs and led the Rebels’ attack with three kills.
Claire Abbott, Bree Mangelsen and Valerie Spooner all had two kills. Mangelsen and Spooner both had added two blocks as well.
Lanxon and Ellie Rickertsen combined for nine assists with the latter joining Mangelsen with two aces.
The match came three days after the Rebels completed a busy Saturday at the Camanche Invitational.
Northeast faced five different squads at the six-team round-robin tournament, but, despite one extremely close call, was unable to come away with a victory.
In fact, the minimum two-point margin was all that kept the Rebels from knocking off Easton Valley at the tournament.
Northeast took the first set, 21-16, against the River Hawks, but Easton Valley rebounded with a big win in the second set.
That sent the match to a deciding third set and a race to 15 points.
The River Hawks got there first, but only after breaking a 14-14 tie, which kept the match alive.
Easton Valley, though, got the next point as well to finish off the 16-14 win.
Hildebrandt provided a spark to the Northeast attack, putting down eight of the team’s 12 kills, while also coming up with two digs and a block.
Lanxon and Mangelsen both joined Hildebrandt with two digs with the former also dishing out four assists and serving up an ace.
Rickertsen matched Lanxon with four assists of her own and Abbott also served up an ace.
The Rebels received early previews of a pair of River Valley North opponents.
They played Bellevue close, falling by four points in both sets (21-17, 21-17).
Abbott led a balanced attack with four kills, while Alexis Ehlers, Hildebrandt and Mangelsen all had two.
Lanxon assisted on six of the kills, while Messerich came up with five digs and Mangelsen served up a pair of aces.
The Rebels will meet hosting Camanche again Tuesday for their divisional match in Goose Lake.
There, Northeast will look to avenge the Indians’ two-set victory at the tournament.
The Rebels had a tough time getting their offense going, but made up for it with 10 digs — three apiece coming from Abbott and Messerich — and a perfect 18-for-18 performance at the service line with Ehlers serving up an ace.
Lanxon dished out three assists — Spooner led the Rebels with two kills — and added two digs.
The Rebels also competed against Mediapolis and Davenport North.
The 10th-ranked Bulldogs did not give up a set en route to a perfect 5-0 mark and kept the Northeast defense busy.
The Rebels, though, responded with a tournament-high 18 digs, including eight from Messerich, five from Lanxon and three from Abbott.
Aubrie Kruse added a block and three Rebels — Abbott, Lanxon and Spooner — had aces.
Northeast found a lot of success with their serves against the Wildcats, piling up six aces courtesy of five different players — Coby Johnson led the way with two, while Hildebrandt, Lanxon, Mangelsen and Rickertsen all had one.
Lanxon chipped in two kills as well, while Messerich led Northeast with four digs.