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Marathon finish: Kingsford earns volleyball title with 38-36 win in finale

(Todd Rose/Escanaba Daily Press photo) Kingsford’s volleyball team captured the annual The Rock Tournament championship on Saturday at Gladstone High School. From left, front, are Abby Przeslakowski, Elaina Bortolini (6), Lexi DalSanto (16), Emma Andrews (9), Kaitlyn Schmutzler, Talia Wallis (4), Mckynzee Kreider and Alexander Erickson; standing, head coach Jaclynn Kreider, Grace Roberts (11), Danika Varda (20), Abby Terrian (10), Laura Bracket (7), Madelynn Kreider (12), Zoie Geronomi (22), Mackenzie Primeau (29), Allie LaVarnway (8), assistant coaches Jamie Momont and Rita Huglen.

GLADSTONE — A 38-36 marathon set ended with the Kingsford Flivvers victorious over the Houghton Gremlins on Saturday at The Rock Invitational hosted by Gladstone High School.

Kingsford won the finals in two sets, 25-18 and 38-36.

“Oh my gosh, it feels great,” said Kingsford coach Jaclynn Kreider. “I’ve never coached a set where it’s gone that long. To see the girls just keep battling — and on both sides — people were still swinging hard; we were still serving hard from both sides. I compliment both teams on being able to keep it competitive and to almost go a game and a half if not more than that.”

The Flivvers and Gremlins ended pool play as the top two teams at 10-2 and 11-1, respectively.

While the first set — that ended 25-18 — of the finals did feature some excitement, it paled in comparison to the nailbiter that was the 38-36 Rock deciding set.

Kingsford controlled much of the match, leading up until the Gremlins took the lead at 25.

From there, the teams traded scores until things were tied at 36.

A point was then awarded to the Flivvers on a service line violation committed by Houghton’s Olivia Merriman.

Kingsford’s Allie Lavarnaway sealed the win on the ensuing serve with an ace.

Kreider attributed the win to the Flivver’s ability to work well as one unit instead of one specific player.

“A lot of people will say … ‘who are your standouts?’ and that’s not us this year,” she said. “We’re a small team. Everybody notices that right away when they see us. We don’t have a lot of height, but we play together. Everybody has their opportunities to step it up, and everybody does take their opportunities to step it up.

“That’s what’s great about this team. We all have each other’s back, and we can go to anybody at any time, so it’s awesome.”

Madelynn Kreider led Kingsford in total aces for the tournament with 17, Abby Terrian led in blocks with seven, Talia Wallis in kills with 17 and Emma Andrews in digs with 13.

For the Houghton Gremlins, there was nothing left to give, said coach Blaire Zenner.

“We gave it our all, today,” said Zenner. “We fought hard all day long. The only loss we had during pool play was a set to Kingsford, so we knew that it was going to be a tough fight. I thought our girls held in there.”

After emerging from pool play into the final pairing, it took a little bit for the Gremlins to find their footing added Zenner.

“Our first set, we came out maybe a little timid,” she said. “But, we were able to get out of that funk for the second set. Unfortunately, we came up a little bit short.

“We have a strong team, and I’m very proud of all their accomplishments and what they can do on the floor. … Sometimes, I think we may get in our heads a little bit. But, we were able to get out of there and fight back.”

Before the final pool play sets started, Gladstone Athletic Director Dale Hongisto and Gladstone coach Averi Kanyuh awarded nine players — Stella Wickstrom (Houghton), Olivia Merriman (Houghton), Jordana Hardy (Gwinn), Emma Andrews (Kingsford), Madelynn Kreider (Kingsford), Samantha Kedsch (Carney-Nadeau), Kricia Jenkins (Houghton), Hannah Deloughary (Ishpeming) and Olivia Corp (Ishpeming) — a spot on the All-Tournament team.

Kanyuh noted that the All-Tournament team included a few more names than normal.

“They did (the All-Tournament team) a couple years in the past, so this year, I thought this year we could have a couple more people named to the team since we’ve got less teams, unfortunately,” she said. “Hopefully, we can build on that for next year and get more teams to come back.”

Pool play results:

Houghton 11-1

Kingsford 10-2

Carney-Nadeau 6-6

Gwinn 6-6

Ishpeming 4-8

Gladstone 2-10

Westwood 2-10

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