KINGSFORD - Nobody said it'd easy, but the Calumet Copper Kings found a way to pass their first major volleyball test on Saturday.
Calumet earned the Kingsford Invitational title by topping the host Flivvers 21-10, 22-20.
"This is a nice start to our season," said Calumet coach Lisa Twardzik. "There were some great teams here. Tournaments are going to be fun this year. It looks like there's a lot of good teams in the Upper Peninsula."
A net violation enabled Calumet to snap a 20-20 deadlock in the second set, moments before the Copper Kings secured the decision on a kill by Kristy Lasanen.
Calumet scored the first three points in the finale. A six-point service run by Marissa Menghini, however, helped the Flivvers gain a 6-3 lead.
The Copper Kings responded with a 7-1 run for a 10-7 advantage, forcing the Flivvers to use a time-out.
"I'm happy with how our girls played," said first-year Kingsford coach Amanda Meyers. "They played with a lot of passion. The kids were diving for balls. Carlee Benzie played smart and was flying all over the place, and our setter (Brooke Sanford) impressed me.
"Calumet has a very strong program. Lisa is a great coach who always finds a way to get the most out of her players. They keep you guessing and make you work on defense."
Twardzik was also impressed with the Flivvers and how Meyers handled her coaching debut.
"Mandy is doing a great job with that team," she said. "They're well trained. We look forward to seeing them again."
Calumet reached the title match by rallying past Menominee 14-21, 21-9, 15-8.
"Being able to persevere is a great characteristic of
this team," said Twardzik. "Our girls respect all opponents, only we had a lot of unforced errors on our side of the ball in the first set. We reduced those in the second set."
In pool play, Calumet topped North Dickinson (21-5, 21-12), defending champion Forest Park (21-19, 21-13), Marquette (21-15, 21-14) and Iron Mountain (21-13, 21-12).
Setter Kayleen Anderson hit 13 aces and distributed 81 assists in Calumet's 5-1 offense. Lasanen finished with 25 kills. Lexi Rowe added 20 kills and 13 aces and Ellen Twardzik had 19 kills and three blocks.
"Lexi made a nice showing in her varsity debut," said coach Twardzik. "Meghan Yeo did a nice job serving. She scored a lot of points for us and Terra Erkkila and Catherine Frantti did an excellent job defensively."
Molly Loukus provided the Copper Kings with seven aces and Loretta Anderson had two blocks.
Calumet heads downstate Thursday to compete in the Cadillac Invitational.
Kingsford reached the final by outlasting Forest Park 21-18, 10-21, 18-16 in the other semifinal.
"I think the Forest Park match took a lot out of us," said Meyer. "We wanted to see that momentum carry over into the Calumet match and we hung with them in the second set. There were glimpses of greatness."
Hancock, unable to advance from pool play, fell to Kingsford (21-16, 21-13) and Menominee (21-5, 21-12) before salvaging a 21-18, 21-15 victory over Norway.
The Bulldogs resume Aug. 28 at Chassell.