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Volleyball: Houghton sweeps Ishpeming before COVID-19 pause

Gremlins’ last game before two-week hold for COVID-19 precaution

Houghton’s Emily Svoke (17) hits the ball against Ishpeming on Thursday in Houghton. (David Archambeau/For the Gazette)

HOUGHTON — John Christianson has more than 30 years coaching high school volleyball, but he said this season has been his most challenging.

“You never know what’s coming next this year,” Christianson said after his team’s 3-0 (25-9, 25-19, 25-8) sweep of Ishpeming Thursday evening at the Houghton Gymnasium. “We were just happy to have a season. And now, after this week, we have a two-week hole in the schedule.”

He was alluding to the mandatory two-week pause on in-person classes by the Western U.P. Health Department that begins Monday, which will also suspend sporting events.

The Gremlins, who moved to 6-0 on the season and have yet to drop a set, were in control virtually all the way Thursday.

Ishpeming coach Kat Beerling said her team knew exactly what to expect in the match.

“Houghton has one of the top volleyball programs in the U.P.,” Beerling said. “If you don’t bring your top game, you’re in trouble up here. And we didn’t play the way we have been playing recently.”

After Houghton rolled to a 25-9 first set win, the Hematites made a move in the second set.

The Hematites closed to within 16-14 at one point behind the play of Olivia Corp and Faith Loman.

But the Gremlins regained control behind senior MaryEllen Trewhella and Olivia Merriman on the way to a 25-19 set victory.

“We got a little sloppy in the second set,” Christianson said. “But I was really happy with our overall play, the first and third sets were very good. We were right on our game.”

The Gremlins grabbed a 9-0 lead in the third set and breezed home to close it out.

Leading the way for the Gremlins was junior Micaela Geborkoff, who Christianson said, “moved the ball around really well.”

Trewhella led with 8 kills, Merriman chipped in five, Abby Stone had four and Emily Svoke had three kills.

“That’s the way we like it, to spread things around,” Christianson said.

Defensively, Paige DeForge stood out with a team-leading 10 digs.

Christianson said he likes the way his team is coming together even under the current restrictions.

“I think partly because they were so appreciative to get the chance to play,” he said. “They know what their friends missed last spring when everything disappeared. I think that has really helped them to focus.”

Ishpeming (1-4) received 15 digs from Hannah DeLoughary.

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