Mountaineers outlast Copper Kings in five sets

IRON MOUNTAIN — Iron Mountain salvaged the fifth set to edge Calumet 3-2 in West PAC action Thursday.

The Mountaineers took the first two games before collapsing. The Copper Kings stormed back to take the next two games and force the fifth set.

Iron Mountain won the first two sets by scores of 25-17 and 25-23. Calumet took the next two sets 25-12 and 25-18 before the Mountaineers claimed the fifth set 15-12.

“Talk about momentum. They came out to 11-1 serving. It was all in our serve-receive,” Iron Mountain head coach Jeanne Newberry said. “Everyone kind of sat on their heels thinking it was just going to go as easy as the last two. Calumet is a smart team. They made an adjustment and started to hit through our blockers and started swinging at the ball, whereas the first two games they were a little tentative early and they went to push deep and long.”

Calumet shrugged off the first two sets and bolted to a 12-0 lead before Iron Mountain scored its first point in the third set. The Copper Kings kept rolling, maintaining at least a 10-point lead the rest of the way.

Communication lagged the Mountaineers as it has so far this season. Most balls hit by Calumet were met with two or three Mountaineers players vying to bump or pass, rather than one calling for it. Newberry said communication about covering was also an issue as Calumet stormed back.

“They were flat-footed. I don’t know if they were too strong the first games,” Newberry said. “They gave the momentum and it was our place to take it away. The next two games were pretty much theirs. Our momentum picked up pretty much towards the end. Once we got ahead a couple points in that first serve we were solid.”

Emma Thomann and Mackenzie Swanson were a big presence in the middle for Iron Mountain. They combined for 15 blocks and 25 kills. Thomann had 10 blocks and 14 kills.

Calumet head coach Matt Laho said his team’s slow start was due to the two-hour bus ride.

“We started slow and once we got in a groove and started doing what we do best, I thought we were playing good,” Laho said. “We tightened up a little bit in that fifth set.

“Anytime you travel two hours to play a game, you’re going to have a little bus lag if you want to call it that.”

The Copper Kings found more to improve on as the season continues.

“There’s stuff we gotta work on on the front row,” Laho said.