Loss to a powerhouse
GLADSTONE – It was a dominating performance to say the least by Calumet High School on Tuesday night in a Class C regional volleyball semifinal at Gladstone High School.
The Copper Kings cruised past Munising in three straight sets, 25-16, 25-6, 25-21, to advance to the 5:30 p.m. Thursday regional championship against Rudyard, which squeezed past Iron Mountain in five sets in Tuesday’s other semi.
The Bulldogs pulled out a 22-25, 25-14, 25-15, 22-25, 15-12 victory. They led 22-17 in what would’ve been the fourth and final set until IM scored eight straight points to force set No. 5.
The fifth set also went back and forth before Rudyard closed it out.
Munising had Calumet coach Lisa Twardzik concerned from the get-go in their match.
“They (Munising) looked solid in warm-ups,” Twardzik said. “Give credit to our block team. They have great hitters, but we were able to slow them down.
“We did a great job digging and played solid defense. This just goes to show how important serve receives are.”
Munising trailed just 13-11 in the opening set following a service ace by senior Frankie Mattson.
The Copper Kings answered with six straight points, gaining a 19-11 advantage on a kill by senior middle hitter Haley Wickstrom.
Calumet led by as much as 24-13 on a kill by junior Brea Johnson and won the opener on a serving error.
In the second set, the Copper Kings built a 9-0 lead before a kill by senior Michaela Peramaki got the Mustangs on the board.
Munising trimmed its deficit to 11-4 on a two-hit violation by Calumet. The Copper Kings, however, didn’t allow the Mustangs to get any closer.
“That’s a good squad,” Munising coach Josh Cole said about the Copper Kings. “I think they’ll go pretty deep into the state tournament.
“Their versatility on offense gave us the most problems. I can’t think of too many digging errors they made in the first two sets. Their defense is phenomenal.”
Munising trailed 20-12 in the finale before trimming its deficit to 24-21.
Senior Kelsey Tikkanen then provided Calumet with the match-clinching kill.
“We ran a variety of attacks,” Twardzik said. “We talked about staying focused on the floor. We looked at their fans and it almost looked like the whole U.P. was here. Their cheering section was just full of people, but that’s what makes it exciting.”
Wickstrom finished with 15 kills and two blocks, while Calumet teammate Lea Bjorn added eight kills to go with 12 digs.
“The Wickstrom girl is a great hitter who knows how to place the ball,” Cole said. “We didn’t expect her to be scoring on some jumps. That’s tough to overcome. That’s something we don’t see all year.
“Our girls were excited about coming into the match. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the start we wanted in the second set. Regardless of outcome, I’m super proud of the season we had.”