Copper Kings’ season comes to end against Emeralds, 3-1
MARQUETTE — It was nothing short of intense.
It was as intense and energized as a neutral gym could possibly get, making for an exciting battle between the Calumet and Manistique volleyball teams on Tuesday night.
The Emeralds earned a 3-1 match victory over the Copper Kings in front of a vocal crowd at Marquette Senior High School to advance to the Region 17 final versus Traverse City St. Francis on Thursday in the MHSAA Division 3 tournament.
The set scores were 24-26, 29-27, 25-19, 25-22.
Manistique head coach Amy Nixon said her team came alive after dropping a back-and-forth first set.
“We were a little bit tense in the first set,” she said. “As soon as we loosened up and played our game, it all came together from there.
“It was such a team effort. Defensively, we had multiple people doing their jobs and our hitters, we had people spreading out.”
Asked what her team has left in store for TC St. Francis, Nixon said she isn’t too familiar with them, but is confident her team can compete.
“I’ve only looked them up online so far so I’m going to have to reach out to some people I know to see if we can find out more about them,” she said. “If we just play our game and do what we do best, we can compete with anyone and make adjustments as we go.
“I’m proud of my team for giving a good effort (tonight).”
It was a tough end to the season for Calumet, who found themselves down on the scoreboard during key situations according to head coach Matt Laho.
“We fought hard, but made some critical mistakes in crucial situations,” he said. “Just digging ourselves into holes. We would get a little bit and then lose the momentum and give it to the other team. They dug themselves into a hole but they did a great job fighting back out of it. It’s tough playing from behind the whole time.”
Despite the loss, Laho is satisfied with his team and how they far exceeded anyone’s expectations this season.
“A lot of people didn’t give us respect early in the season,” he said. “They thought we were going to be a flop. I had a lot of people telling me ‘better luck next year, just get through this one,’ but the girls played great, they developed, they worked hard and I think they showed everybody that they deserve to be talked about.”
It was all Copper Kings early in Set 1, never allowing Manistique to gain the lead. Calumet’s largest lead of the set came at 17-12, causing the Emeralds to call timeout after a kill from junior Danika Billeck.
Manistique battled back and pulled within 19-17 with three straight points which included a kill from junior middle blocker Emilee McDaniel.
Now 21-19, the Emeralds notched two more points to tie the game at 21-all. Calumet followed that up with three points to go up 24-21 before Manistique earned three of its own to tie the game at 24-24 on a kill from junior right-side hitter Jeanni Chartier and two attack errors.
Calumet held on however, getting the last two points on an attack error and a service ace from sophomore Kristi Keranen.
Manistique got its first lead of the night on a block from McDaniel to pull ahead 3-2 in Set 2. Later on, the Emeralds held a 20-15 advantage before a five-point run from Calumet tied the set at 20-20.
The teams traded points twice before Calumet pulled ahead 23-22 on a four-hit violation. Manistique tied it again on a double-hit violation before Calumet got it right back on a kill from senior Celia Kiilunen to go up 24-23.
Not giving in, the Lady Emeralds made it 24-24 on an attack error before the Copper Kings got to set point again on a kill from junior Molly Larson.
The Emeralds earned the next two to put them on set point for the first time, but the Copper Kings tied it again on an attack error at 26-26.
Calumet got to set point yet again on a service ace from senior Mackenzie Peters, but the Emeralds finally got the final three points to take the set on a service error, a block from McDaniel and an attack error.
Set 3 was mostly Manistique, pulling ahead 10-4 early on and later 17-17.
Up 21-10 now, the Copper Kings cut the lead to three to make it 21-18 after an eight-point run.
Manistique held on to take the set however, which ended on a service ace from McDaniel.
The Emeralds pulled ahead 14-8 in Set 4 before Calumet eventually clawed back to tie things up at 19-19.
Manistique got the next three forcing Calumet into a timeout. The Copper Kings got the first point out of the timeout on a kill from Larson, but the Emeralds managed to get three of the final five points to clinch the set and the match, which ended on a kill from Chartier.
McDaniel led the Emeralds with 16 kills and eight aces on the night. Chartier had 12 kills while sophomore middle blocker Kayla Muth had 10 and junior outside hitter Lenna Smith had seven. Senior setter Joslyn Muth had 44 assists.
Defensively, Smith had 34 digs while senior libero Sydny Peterson added 30. Kayla Muth had four blocks while McDaniel added three.
Calumet stats weren’t immediately available after the match.
Manistique hosts Traverse City St. Francis in the Region 17 final Thursday at 6:30 p.m.