MARQUETTE - During the 19th century, Michigan almost moved its state capital to Calumet.
That never came to fruition, but residents of the Keweenaw Peninsula town can still claim they are the capital of Upper Peninsula high school volleyball.
The Copper Kings defended their title at the Articatz Invitational Autumn Classic held in Marquette all day Saturday.
Calumet won all 12 of its sets, the most important a pair of victories over nearby rival Houghton in the championship match, 25-20, 25-23.
The two teams cruised to first-round byes by winning separate pools, the only loss between them coming in the Gremlins' morning split against Marquette, 25-22, 23-25.
Houghton got revenge for that loss in the semifinals, turning back the Redettes 25-22, 25-14 to earn its berth in the finals.
"One of our objectives is to always represent the Copper Country well at tournaments," longtime Houghton coach John Christianson said.
He said his team has just one starter back playing her same position this season, middle hitter Blaire Zenner, who finished the day with 21 kills, eight service aces and four blocks in a dozen games.
"We have a couple others who played regularly last year, but they're playing different positions now," he said. "So we're still putting the pieces together.
"I think we got some positive answers to some questions today."
Calumet also defeated the Gremlins 3-1 in a WestPAC match in Houghton on Thursday, losing the first game on foreign ground before storming back for three straight victories.
"Any tournament we enter, we set our goal at winning it," CHS coach Lisa Twardzik said. "I was pleased with how our team played. They played consistently, they played well together and I was also pleased with their communication throughout the day."
That was evident as the Copper Kings won every pool game by at least a 25-17 count, then dispatched Rapid River in the semifinals, 25-15, 25-7.
In the title tilt, Calumet jumped out to an 8-1 advantage in Game 1 and kept a lead of at least four points until Houghton pulled within 22-19 and 23-20.
The Kings made several top-notch plays to put the game away on a kill hit low onto the Houghton side and a serve reception by the Gremlins that went flying to the back wall.
The teams fought tooth-and-nail in set two, with the score tied at 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 22 and 23 before Calumet's Molly Loukus slammed the ball through two Houghton blockers and a hitting error by the Gremlins ended the day.
In the finals, Calumet middle hitter Ellen Twardzik made six kills along with a block and service ace, while outside hitters Lexie Rowe and Kristy Lasanen each had four kills.
Marquette split with Chassell in pool play before facing them again in the quarterfinals, sweeping 25-15, 25-13, before falling to Houghton in the semis.