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Flivvers claim ‘The Rock’

The Kingsford girls volleyball team claimed top honors at The Rock tournament at Gladstone. Pictured, front row from left, Kali Dooley, Brooke Kriegel, Lexi Roberge. Middle: Cece Pickett, Katherine Erickson, Allyce Phillips, Emma Allen, Maddy Holmes. Back row: Hannah Strutz, Kate Cook, Ali Doolittle, Maggie Strehlow, Christy Gladowski, Josie Scott.

GLADSTONE — A long day of play laid the foundations for a come-from-behind victory here Saturday as the fourth-seeded Kingsford volleyball team beat the Gwinn Modeltowners to win the annual Gladstone “Rock” volleyball invitational.

The finals match between the Flivvers and Gwinn came down to a third set after a dominant first set win by the Flivvers (25-10) and a Gwinn win (25-23) that came down to the wire in the second.

After trailing by two, the Modeltowners tied it at 7. A block at the net gave Gwinn the lead, and it built on that momentum to build a 21-13 lead.

Kingsford’s Maggie Strehlow won back possession and some momentum with a tip-over kill. The Flivvers reduced their deficit to 21-17 until the Modeltowners’ Megan Ruokolainen broke their streak, but a four-point service run by Kingsford’s Lexi Roberge tied it at 22.

Gwinn’s Maddy Holmes gave the Modeltowners the lead back with a tip-over, but a service error into the net tied it again and gave it back to the Flivvers.

Back-to-back kills from Strehlow — who was the lone Kingsford selection to the all-tournament team — and Kate Cook sealed the set, the match and the tournament.

“We started out hot in the first set,” Flivvers’ coach Jaclynn Kreider said. “In the second set, I think we got into a lull. We were getting in our own heads, and our energy levels went down. I think we’re a team that needs a lot of energy, so we don’t allow ourselves to get into our own heads and lose momentum.”

The Flivvers made it to the finals match after an upset win over Escanaba in the semifinals (27-25, 25-13) after Escanaba swept the Flivvers (25-10, 25-14) in pool play. Escanaba went 8-0 in pool play to earn the top seed.

“(In the semifinals) we just tried to tell the girls to play with confidence,” Kreider said. “We knew we could play better than when we saw them in pool play, so they could go in there confident and battle them. I just wanted the girls to go in there with high energy and put what happened in pool play behind them, or if they had to think about it, to use it to help drive them.”

The Eskymos took an early lead in the first set, but in play similar to the third finals set, the Flivvers gained momentum after trailing 20-14 to eventually tie it at 25. A kill by Roberge and an Esky ball into the net finished the set. The Flivvers kept their momentum into the second set to move on to the finals.

Pool play records (in sets):

Escanaba — 8-0; Gwinn — 5-3; Houghton — 5-3; Kingsford — 5-3; Gladstone — 5-3; Rapid River — 3-5; Westwood — 2-6; Norway — 2-6; Ishpeming — 1-7.

All-Tournament Team:

Houghton — Paige Defore, Daityn Markham, Rachael Hall; Escanaba — Nicole Kamin, Jalin Olson; Kingsford — Maggie Strehlow.

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