West Iron County advances to ‘Houghton’ semis


HOUGHTON – For the past three seasons, no local volleyball team has delivered more clutch moments than the Calumet Copper Kings. Whether it’s been a kill, dig or a game-changing ace, Calumet has consistently found ways to rally.

On Saturday, the five-time defending regional champs added another chapter to its impressive catalog of comebacks.

Just two points away from losing the title match to the Houghton Gremlins in the Houghton Invite, Calumet rallied to take the second set, 25-23, before dominating the third set, 15-5, to repeat as tournament champions in Houghton.

“I try to coach them to understand that they have to have confidence in this game, never focus on errors and to always look ahead,” Calumet head coach Matt Laho said. “We just have to do what we do well and keep doing it. Even if we make a few mistakes, we just have to play our own game.”

The decisive moment came when Calumet senior Lea Bjorn broke the 23-all tie in the second set with one of her powerful match-high 16 kills.

Bjorn finished the tournament with 54 kills, helping Calumet compile an 8-0 record in pool play before defeating West Iron Country (25-10, 25-18) in the semifinals.

Houghton also cruised through pool play, finishing 8-0. The Gremlins defeated the Gwinn Modeltowners (25-13, 25-10) to reach the championship match.

For the tournament for Houghton, senior Kendra Monette recorded 34 kills, eight aces and 18 digs

Next, Calumet returns to Houghton (5-1 West-PAC) on Tuesday for a West PAC showdown. The Copper Kings (6-0) can clinch the conference championship with a win.

Orange Pool Results — Calumet 8-0, Gwinn 6-2, Ironwood 4-4.

Dollar Bay 2-6, L’Anse 0-8

Black Pool Results — Houghton 8-0, West Iron County 5-3 (2nd by head to head results vs. Chassell), Chassell 5-3, Hancock 2-6, Baraga 0-8

Flivvers fourth in GNC

MARQUETTE — Escanaba went 4-0 on the day and earned a share of the Great Northern Conference regular season crown while Marquette finished 2-2 on the day at the GNC Tournament at Marquette Senior High School on Saturday.

The Eskymos shared the regular season title with Sault Ste. Marie who finished the tournament in the runner-up position with a record of 3-1. Marquette was third followed by Kingsford and Menominee in fourth and fifth respectively.

The Eskymos held a record of 10-2 going into the tournament and Escanaba head coach Adam Lambert said teamwork was the key to his team’s success today and all season.

“We’re excited,” he said.

“Our girls came to play and we came out undefeated,” he said. “Just the teamwork today, the unity, the girls played together and they’re excited, so they were all phenomenal. No matter who I put in, they played as a team.”

Sault Ste. Marie head coach Lisa Moran said a GNC title was the goal all season.

“That was our goal coming in,” she said.

“We were undefeated coming into the tournament. We did everything we wanted to do. Every match, we fought through.”

The tournament was set up in a round-robin format, with each team playing each other once for a total of four matches in all.

Each match was a best-of-three format, different from the usual best-of-five.

The Redettes’ two wins came against Kingsford and Menominee, defeating the Flivvers in three sets (25-19, 19-25 and 15-7), and the Maroons in two sets (25-14, 25-19).

Marquette is now 4-6 in match play and 4-4 in the GNC.

Marquette head coach Mike Morgan said hosting the tournament was special for MSHS.

However, he would like to see his team play with more consistency.

“It was nice to see us get a tournament back, it’s been a lot of years since we’ve had a Great Northern Conference tournament,” he said.

“We started the day off slow. At times, we played in system, but not consistent enough.

You can’t pick and choose when you want to play, and that’s on me as the coach to get them playing consistently.

“At times, we can be the best team in the gym and other times we’re not. I want to get these kids to realize their full potential, that’s what a coach is supposed to do and that’s my objective.

I don’t let them walk out of the gym with regrets at the end of the year.”

Marquette was led by Chloe Hale who recorded 73 assists and six aces through all four matches. Mikaila Graham had 62 digs and Aspen Michelin recorded 28 kills.

Marquette travels to Kingsford for a match on Thursday.

Ryan Spitza can be reached at sports@miningjournal.net.