L’Anse edges West Iron County 3-2 in district opener

L'Anse's Isabelle Martinez (5) attempts to make a block against West Iron County on Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, in L'Anse, Mich. (Eddie O'Neill/The Daily Mining Gazette)

L’ANSE — The L’Anse Purple Hornets earned the nickname “the comeback kids” on the volleyball court Monday night as the buzzed past the West Iron Wykons in MSHAA Division 3 District 65 opener.

Down 2-1, the Purple Hornets won the final two sets to host Jeffers at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the district semifinals. Calumet plays Hancock in the other Wednesday semifinal. The district final is scheduled for Friday hosted by the Calumet-Hancock winner.

L’Anse won by scores of 21-25, 25-16, 24-26, 25-20 and 15-12.

“We didn’t give up. We didn’t hang our heads like we normally do,” said Purple Hornets head coach Chad Rice. “That has been the trend when we make mistakes, but tonight we bounced right back. Tonight we played through it and it was good to see.”

It was an exciting night of volleyball from the start. The first set saw six ties in the first ten points. One team would go up by one and the other would come back to make it even. The game tilted towards the Wykons at 18-14. The Purple Hornets just could not catch up.

However things changed in the second set. L’Anse pulled out to a 6-2 lead and kept rolling. Their biggest lead came at 20-10 thanks to a kill by Alayna Waara. She led the team with 12 kills on the night.

“She is our power house and kept us in the game tonight,” said Rice.

He also noted the strong play of Rylee Fish who led the team with five aces.

“Rylee played great tonight. Our normal setter is sick but she stepped in and played outstanding,” Rice said. “I am really proud of her.”

The third set looked a lot like the first with ties at two, five and 14. The Wykons then stayed a point or two out of reach of the Purple Hornets. L’Anse had their chances but more often than not they would get the ball and hit it into the net on their first serve until the end. After a kill by Makiah Minerick, she took control at the service line and moved the score from a 22-18 Wykon lead to a 22 -22 tie. They would be even at 23 and 24 until the Wykons took two points in a row with Jordan Shamion serving and secured a 26-24 win.

The Purple Hornets had their work cut out in the fourth and again stepped up to job. They took an early lead and never looked back. While they were up 16-10, the Wykons turned on the momentum and came back to within two at 16-18. However that is as close as they got as the game ended with a 25-20 win for the Purple Hornets.

In the fifth and final set, the Purple Hornets proved what they were made of as they overcame a 5-2 deficit to tie it at five with Waara at the line. It would be tied again at eight before the pulled away for the 15-12 win.

Despite the loss, Wykons head coach Kelly Sartorelli said it was a good year.

“There is a lot of camaraderie here,” Sartorelli said. “I loved working with the seniors, and I feel bad because they did not have a complete season. They will be missed.”

The Wykons season ended at 3-5.


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