NORWAY - The record will forever show that Calumet opened Thursday's Class C regional volleyball final with a serving error.
That was one of the few miscues the Copper Kings made, however, as they romped past the West Iron County Wykons 3-0 (25-4, 25-10, 25-9) for their first regional championship in three years.
"It was great having two WestPAC teams playing for the regional title," said Calumet coach Lisa Twardzik. "They (West Iron) were 3-5 in our conference. I think that shows the strength of our conference."
This marked the sixth consecutive time a Copper Country team was crowned regional champion. Houghton won it the past two years, with Calumet taking it the previous three seasons.
The Copper Kings qualified for this year's regional by taking Houghton in three sets in the district final.
"It's always a test of your mental toughness when you play Houghton," said Twardzik. "John (coach Christianson) does a great job with his program."
The victory sends the Copper Kings to the state quarterfinals at Traverse City West, where they'll face Traverse City St. Francis Tuesday at 7 p.m.
St. Francis advanced by sweeping Johanesburg-Lewiston in a regional final on its home floor.
After spotting the Wykons their only lead in the match, Calumet took charge of the opening set behind a 15-point service run by senior Molly Loukus.
"Molly has an awesome serve," said sophomore middle hitter Ellen Twardzik, who collected nine kills and four blocks. "I thought we'd come out strong, but it was very important for Molly to give us that many points. It also showed character to come back from that first missed serve. It felt good to see our team respond to that."
Coach Twardzik had similar thoughts on Loukus' serving.
"Molly's run helped get us into a comfortable position in the first set," she said. "That enabled us to run a more complex offense."
Senior Kristy Lasanen added a pair of lengthy service runs for the Copper Kings, who remained sharp throughout the match. She hit eight points in a row for a 10-2 advantage in the second set and nine straight in the third to put Calumet up 15-6.
"We had some good hitting tonight, which helps our serving," said Lasanen, who finished with five aces, five kills and seven digs. "We shook off the first missed serve and focused on the next play. We knew we could do it (take the regional title). We're just excited to be going downstate."
Calumet's overall intensity was also pleasing to coach Twardzik.
"Our seniors know what the situation is and they're bringing it," she added. "This team has received compliments by many coaches at numerous tournaments, and I'm very proud of the way the girls conduct themselves. We're also very proud to be representing the U.P."
West Iron provided a brief challenge in the third set, tying the match at 3-3 and 5-5. The Copper Kings then got a sideout, setting the stage for Lasanen's nine-point run.
"They're just top-notch," West Iron coach Brenda Grubbs said of the Copper Kings. "They read the floor very well. Their blocking, hitting and serving is very good. After the match, I told Lisa that we hope we got beat by the state champion. They move and cover the floor nicely."
Sophomore Lexie Rowe added seven kills and a block. Senior Kayleen Anderson had 20 assists and Terra Erkkila recorded 10 digs for Calumet.
West Iron's leaders were junior Cassilyn Pellizer and Emilie Christensen with three kills apiece.