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Powerhouse spikers: Negaunee’s volleyball season ends in regional semis to Upper Peninsula power Calumet

Calumet’s Lizzie Torola, center at net, blocks Negaunee’s Natalie Bell, right at net, in the second set of their MHSAA Division 3 high school volleyball regional semifinal match at Westwood High School on Tuesday. Also defending for the Copper Kings is Elli Djerf. Looking on for the Miners are, from left, Allison Ennett and Raquel Carlson. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

“(Calumet) kept pushing and kept attacking and we fumbled on defense a little bit.” — SARAH

MacDONALD, head coach, Negaunee volleyball

—————–

ISHPEMING — It’s not easy to put together an undefeated volleyball season. It takes talent, communication and maybe a little bit of luck as well.

Calumet just needed the first two to keep its winning streak going Tuesday night as the Copper Kings swept Negaunee in the MHSAA Division 3 regional semifinals at Westwood High School. Scores were 25-18, 25-14, 25-17.

With the win, Calumet faces Charlevoix tonight in Manistique for the regional championship and a berth in the state quarterfinals next week.

Negaunee's Josie Thomson takes a ball to her head as she attempts to keep the ball in play in the second set of an MHSAA Division 3 high school volleyball regional semifinal match played against Calumet at Westwood High School on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

“I thought our blockers did a really good job at the net,” Calumet head coach Kate Bonacorsi said. “Our right side was coming over to help out in the middle and I thought they got a lot of touches, even balls that they didn’t necessarily get a block kill. And I think that helped our defense look a lot better.

“Offensively, we ran a lot of different attacks in all our positions and I thought the girls did a good job of making good decisions of what to set when.”

Helen Beiring and Elli Djerf each had 11 kills to lead Calumet offensively, while Kristi Keranen and Mallie Anderson combined for 31 assists. Keranen also had four aces and Beiring 13 digs.

Negaunee kept pace with Calumet for much of the match, but eventually, the Copper Kings started to pull away in each set.

“I think Calumet just kept giving strong, consistent offense,” Miners head coach Sarah MacDonald said. “They play such a solid game all the way around. They kept pushing and kept attacking and we fumbled on defense a little bit. But I’m really proud of my girls’ effort. They gave it all they had for sure.”

Natalie Bell was the Miners’ offensive star with seven kills, while Larissa Anderson had nine assists and two aces. Bell also had four blocks, while three Negaunee players had four digs apiece.

The first set was the tightest of the three as the teams traded points for most of it. Calumet built an 18-11 lead, but Negaunee wouldn’t go away as it stayed within striking distance. However, after a Beiring kill, the Copper Kings held a 23-16 advantage and finished with a seven-point win on a kill from Marybeth Halonen.

Calumet opened the second set with four straight points, but the Miners rallied and pulled within one at 6-5 on an ace from Anderson. Negaunee stayed within five points of the Copper Kings until Calumet got four straight to go up 20-11. The Copper Kings later went on a 5-0 run to take the set, winning it on an ace by Keranen.

In need of a win to stay alive, the Miners did everything they could. Negaunee held a 5-4 lead and rallied to tie the third set at 9-9. However, Calumet later went up 16-10 and even though Negaunee bounced back to cut its deficit to four thanks to kills from Bell and Mara Sorensen, the Copper Kings wouldn’t be denied. Calumet quickly built its lead up to eight at 21-13.

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.

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