NORWAY - It was fun while it lasted.
West Iron County's post-season ride came to a halt Thursday night as it dropped a 25-4, 25-10, 25-9 volleyball decision to the Calumet Copper Kings in a Class C regional final.
"We still had a nice tournament run just the same," said West Iron coach Brenda Grubbs. "This team learned quickly to never give up. They really wanted to play and keep it going."
Burt Angeli/The Daily News Photo
West Iron County’s Amy Richardson (7) bumps the volleyball next to Abbie Grubbs Thursday in the Class C volleyball regional final at Norway High School.
The victory sends the Copper Kings to the state quarterfinals at Traverse City West on Tuesday, where they'll face Traverse City St. Francis at 7 p.m.
This marked the sixth consecutive time a Copper Country team was crowned regional champion. Houghton won it the past two years, with Calumet taking it the previous three seasons.
"It's always a test of your mental toughness when you play Houghton," said Twardzik. "John (coach Christianson) does a great job with his program.
"It was great having two West-Pac (Conference) teams playing for the regional title. They (West Iron) were 3-5 in our conference. I think that shows the strength of our conference."
The Wykons, who won their two previous matches in five sets, gained their only lead in Thursday's match on a Calumet serving error.
After tying the first set on a sideout, senior Molly Loukos provided the Copper Kings with a 15-point service run and an insurmountable 16-1 advantage.
"Molly's run helped get us into a comfortable position in the first set," said Calumet coach Lisa Twardzik. "That enabled us to run a more complex offense."
Senior Kristy Lasanen added a pair of lengthy service runs for the Copper Kings, who remained sharp throughout the match. "She hit eight points in a row for a 10-2 advantage in the second set and nine straight in the third to put Calumet up 15-6.
The Wykons mounted a brief challenge in the third set, rallying from a three-point deficit to tie the score at 3 and tying it again at 5 on an ace by junior Abbie Grubbs.
Calumet, however, got a sideout and nine-point run by senior Kristy Lasanen for a commanding 15-6 advantage.
"They're just top notch," West Iron coach Brenda Grubbs said of the Copper Kings. "They read the floor very well. Their blocking, hitting and serving is very good. After the match, I told Lisa that we hope we got beat by the state champion. They move and cover the floor nicely."
The Wykons were led by junior Cassilyn Pellizzer and senior Emilie Christensen with three kills apiece.
Calumet sophomore Ellen Twardzik recorded nine kills and four blocks. Classmate Alexis Rowe added seven kills and a block and Lasanen had five aces, five kills and seven digs.
Senior Kayleen Anderson distributed 20 assists and Terra Erkkila had 10 digs.
"Our seniors know what the situation is and they're bringing it," said coach Twardzik. "This team has received compliments by many coaches at numerous tournaments, and I'm very proud of the way the girls conduct themselves. We're also very proud to be representing the U.P."
Calumet - Lasanen (five aces, five kills, seven digs); Yeo (three aces, six digs); Loukus (three aces); Stromer (two aces); Twardzik (nine kills, four blocks); Rowe (seven kills, one block); L. Anderson (three kills); Torola (one kill, one block); K. Anderson (one kill, 20 assists); Erkkila (10 digs).
West Iron County - Christensen (one ace, three kills); Grubbs (one ace, two kills); Pellizzer (three kills); Richardson and Rasmussen (one kill).