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Calumet volleyball finally back on road to state finals

CALUMET — With a record of 19-0, the Calumet girl’s volleyball was having a season like none other and in more ways than one.

“We literally had our bags packed on a Sunday night (in mid-November) ready to get on the bus for a quarterfinal match against Beaverton in Houghton Lake when we learned we’d be staying home due to the latest COVID-19 mandate,” said Calumet volleyball head coach Kate Bonacorsi.

The mandate issued by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer closed high schools and colleges as well as a number of other venues for three weeks beginning Nov. 18. The mandate was extended another two weeks and then came Christmas break. In short, the undefeated Copper Kings haven’t been together on a volleyball court for close to two months.

And they’re still gunning for a state championship.

No date is listed on the Michigan High School Athletic Association website for the Division 3 state quarterfinals, where Calumet faces Beaverton.

“We’ve kept in contact through Zoom and emails, but that’s just not the same,” Bonacorsi said. “The girls have been doing some workouts at home keeping their volleyball skills up as well as cardio and we’ve been able to watch some film.”

Not only do the Copper Kings have a perfect record, but they have lost just one set all season. That came against Marquette. As the girls return to practice this week for their first practice in more than a month and a half, there will be new COVID-19 testing protocols. The players will have to be tested three times a week before practices according to Bonacorsi.

Equally concerning for Bonacorsi is the realization that the team will not be at their peak performance level as they were in November.

“You work all season to be at your best level and then you’re shut down,” she said. “However everybody is in the same boat. We are going to work really hard this week and do the best we can. The players are excited to be back, but perhaps reservedly so knowing that any point it could change again.”

The last time the Copper Kings advanced this far in the state playoffs was in 2008 when they were state runners up. Bonacorsi hopes to take the team one step further, but first they will have to get by Beaverton. Before the November shut down, the Beaverton Beavers were ranked No. 5 statewide. Calumet has received a number of honorable mention in the rankings.

“We have a game plan,” Bonacorsi said. “As well, we know we will be well prepared as we have been thinking about this match for more than a month.”

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