By RON DEUTER
KINGSFORD - Kingsford is fast becoming a dangerous volleyball team for any opponent to face, and Iron Mountain witnessed it firsthand here Tuesday night.
Theresa Proudfit/The Daily News Photo
Kingsford’s Emily Murdock (3) fires while Iron Mountain’s Marti Pirkola (left) and Bri Geyser put up a block attempt during Tuesday’s volleyball match at Kingsford High School.
The Flivvers, avoiding the type of mental meltdown that frequently plagued the team earlier in the season, swept the Mountaineers 25-10, 25-22, 25-11 in a non-conference match.
"If we're allowed to run our offense and our hitters are starting to attack the ball, it's going to be tough for most teams to endure that," Flivvers coach Steve Andrews said.
The call-up of Nicole Roberge from junior varsity to varsity setter and the subsequent move of Sammie Lindeman to the outside is paying quick dividends for the Flivvers, who now feature a formidable trio from the outside to complement their height in the middle.
While Murdock's stroke from the outside probably possesses the most heat, Lindeman and Sammie Zander aren't far behind - giving the Flivvers options no matter where they are in their rotation.
"Lindeman, Zander, Murdock, any one of those three could have banged it," Andrews said. "They had a great night, all of them."
Even Mountaineers coach Jeanne Newberry was impressed.
"When Kingsford can hammer, they can hammer," she said.
Kingsford took advantage of Iron Mountain's miscues to build a solid lead in the first set. A couple of aces by Abby Michaud and a kill from middle Lauren Smith helped close out the runaway set.
Iron Mountain, with Alena Herman dominating at the serving line, roared out to an 8-2 lead in set two, but Kingsford turned it around with Murdock's turn at the serve. She dropped one ace while otherwise keeping the Mountaineers' defense off kilter to allow Kingsford to narrow the gap. Lindeman also fired a couple of kills as the Flivvers clawed back.
Maria Wiltzius tied the set 9-9 with an ace, and Smith followed with a block to put Kingsford ahead. A couple more aces by Wiltzius and a slam from Smith had Kingsford quickly in front 17-9.
Iron Mountain, benefitting from a little Flivver sloppiness, was able to close the gap the other way. An ace by Herman and a kill from Marti Pirkola also helped as the Mountaineers got within two at 24-22, but a serving error ended the set in Kingsford's favor.
"We didn't go into mental implosion," Andrews said. "We made some mistakes, but we sucked it up and got going."
The final set was tied 6-6 when Zander spiked the Flivvers ahead. A tip by Smith and a few more kills and tips along with a trio of aces late in the set from Zander had Kingsford well on its way.
"Kingsford controls its defense really well," Newberry noted. "We're still learning the 10-foot line and we were just a step slow tonight."
Herman's 15 digs led Iron Mountain. Newberry said the Mountaineers' struggles with serve receive didn't help matters in the match.
"My setter can't do anything unless we have good passes," she said. "And we might be a little height deprived at the net, but that doesn't mean we can't take the speed off the ball."
Iron Mountain returns to Mid-Peninsula play Thursday, hosting Manistique. Kingsford hosts Stephenson Tuesday.