LAKE LINDEN - Calumet found its match against Lake Linden-Hubbell simple to start and difficult to finish Tuesday night.
Only after the Lakes clawed back from two sets down did the Copper Kings regain the upper hand for a 3-2 (25-16, 25-22, 23-25, 16-25, 15-7) victory.
What was a clash between two of the three U.P. teams ranked in the Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association polls didn't look like a contest early, but ended up going the distance.
Calumet’s Molly Loukus passes a serve during the third set of Tuesday’s non-conference match at Lake Linden-Hubbell as teammate Terra Erkkila looks on. Calumet outlasted LL-H for a 3-2 win. (DMG photo by Brandon Veale)
"Lake Linden is ranked 10th in the state (in Class D) for a reason. We knew that coming into this match, it was going to be tough. They're a great team. They scramble well on the floor, dig up a lot of balls, they did a great job," Calumet coach Lisa Twardzik said.
Calumet, which is ranked fourth in Class C, hit its way out of trouble in the fifth set, getting kills from Ellen Twardzik, Lexie Rowe and Kristy Lasanen to build an insurmountable 12-4 lead.
"Ellen makes the big difference. When Ellen's in there, they gain confidence. She was placing it well, driving it to the holes. She started strong in that whole front rotation, and it got them the lead that they needed," LL-H coach Karen Keranen said.
The trio finished with a total of 30 kills, 12 for Twardzik and nine apiece for Rowe and Lasanen.
The Lakes lost some of the edge they had in winning sets three and four and appeared to play the fifth set not to lose, Keranen said.
"I think emotionally, also, in the fifth game, we should be more charged," she said.
Calumet led the first big before the Lakes got their bearings far too late to salvage the set. Terra Erkkila served as the Kings won the match's first eight points, then extended their run to 14-3.
Though the Copper Kings won the second as well, it was much more even: Calumet led 23-22 before back-to-back kills off the tape from Lasanen and Loretta Anderson swung the decision in their favor.
The third set was another close one, but the Lakes finally got their breaks. Mandy Perreault delivered the kill on the second of two set points.
Perreault finished with 12 kills, while Kisul had 18 to lead all hitters.
"They placed the ball very well. I don't think Calumet encounters a lot of teams that can control the placement as well, and that is our advantage. Mandy and Brittni can do it. And we tried to overload the setter's side, purposely, because when their setter gets it, we hope we can get them out of system so they aren't so fast," Keranen said.
Set four reflected how far the pendulum had swung in the hosts' favor. The Lakes ran off six straight points on Chelsea Koepel's serve for a 10-4 edge, then responded to a Calumet counterattack with five more on Jaimie Middleton's to go up 15-7.
Perreault delivered a kill on set point to officially even the match and another on the first point of the deciding set, but Rowe evened it up for Calumet on the next play. From there, Calumet pulled away in a series of short bursts. With the 12-4 lead in hand, an exchange of points down the stretch was enough to reach the finish line, which it did on an LL-H service error.
"My players are determined and hungry and they knew they had to have a good start," Twardzik said of the fifth set.
Terra Erkkila led Calumet with 20 digs, while Lasanen, Catherine Frantti and Kayleen Anderson pitched in 15, 12 and 11, respectively. Kayleen Anderson had 31 assists.
Calumet has some time off now and is idle until the Marquette Invitational a week from Saturday.
For LL-H, Sarah Audette posted 18 assists and 13 digs to lead her team in both categories. Middleton added 12, plus a team-best four aces.
LL-H is at Chassell next Tuesday.
Calumet won the freshman match 2-0 and LL-H took the JV match 2-0.