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Prep Volleyball: Calumet sweeps Hancock

Copper Kings reach district title game; at Ironwood today

Calumet's Elli Ejerf (13) hits the ball as Hancock's Payton Dube (12) defends during a MHSAA Division 3 District 65 semifinal on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019, in Hancock, Mich. (Adam Niemi/The Daily Mining Gazette)

HANCOCK — Calumet put away all doubts of an upset in sweeping Hancock 3-0 in a Division 3 District 65 semifinal Wednesday.

The Copper Kings won by scores of 25-13, 26-24 and 25-14.

Calumet visits Ironwood today for the district championship at 7 p.m. The winner moves on to the regional semifinal on Tuesday at Escanaba. The region championship is hosted by Manistique on Thursday, Nov. 14.

On Wednesday, the Copper Kings focused on dictating play at the net, head coach Matt Laho said.

“Be aggressive at the net,” said Laho of his message to the team. “We knew there were going to be some holes on the floor so it was like all right girls, just make sure you’re getting your hits and stuff to those spots on the floor. Once they started finding them, they were finding a lot of success.”

Hancock hung tough in the second set, forcing Calumet defensive errors, which aligned with the Bulldogs’ gameplan.

“Ultimately the gameplan was to have really gritty defense and just keep making them make the error,” Hancock head coach Elle Heinonen said. “If we can keep sending the ball over the net, they can make errors. They’re a volleyball team of young athletes. That was our gameplan to just keep putting the ball over the net. I think that’s what we did really well in that second set. We did that in moments of the other sets. They’re a good team.”

But the Copper Kings held on to win the set and cinched the momentum through the third set.

But the second set, which nearly became the final set win for the Bulldogs’ season, showcased what they can do well, when they’re playing their best, Heinonen said.

“I think they were communicating. They were battling at the net,” she said. “They were swinging aggressive. Calumet was making errors but they got those few points they needed to win that set. I just think ultimately we played better in that set than they did.”

But Calumet’s ability to thwart Hancock in that second set showed what Calumet is capable, even after not playing in a pre-district Monday as Hancock had at West Iron County.

“Practicing and not getting to play, they had the advantage of playing on Monday and I think that helps,” Laho said of Hancock. “You’re playing games and being in the gym and just going through the grind of practice. Just getting the game today was huge and being able to win in three and shake the rust off was good for us.”

The season-ending loss officially ended Heinonen’s first season as Bulldogs’ head coach after playing four years at Michigan Tech. She said it’s been a learning process.

“I learned how fun it can be. I learned how challenging it can be to be on the other side of it and not be in control,” she said. “Then just trying to give them everything they need and adjusting my style throughout the season to get the most out of them. How can I get the most out of them with what I can give them? I learned a ton from this season.”

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