Kings firing on all cylinders

HANCOCK – With Calumet leading Hancock 21-7 in the third set of their WestPAC volleyball match Tuesday, the fire alarms went off inside Hancock High School and the building was evacuated.

There was no threat to the fans, but inside the lines Calumet proved it was even more dangerous as the Copper Kings quickly finished off a 3-0 (25-13, 25-18, 25-11) sweep.

The best offense starts with a good defense and Calumet used it as a foundation Tuesday.

“I thought the defense and the serve receive corps did a nice job getting the ball to target, and then TL (setter Terilynne Budreau) had a nice match tonight,” Calumet coach Lisa Twardzik said.

On a scale of zero to three indicating the effectiveness of the first pass, Twardzik said her team graded out at 2.5, impressive by any standard.

Calumet’s first touch on the other side of the ball worked well too. Loretta Anderson served a pair of aces for the Copper Kings in the first rotation to get things going, a nice change from a rough weekend at the Ashwaubenon (Wis.) Invite Saturday.

“We had too many service errors in Ashwaubenon. If you’re going to be successful, you have to serve well,” Twardzik said. “I was pleased with our servers. I thought they had some strong serves that were difficult to control.”

The Copper Kings finished with 11 aces in all against four errors.

Calumet took a 5-1 lead early and built its first-set lead by allowing Hancock to string more than two points together only once.

On the other hand, the Copper Kings had all their main offensive weapons fully firing. Junior Lexie Rowe had a batch of kills near the middle of the set, Anderson and Ellen Twardzik kicked in a couple and the set was well in hand by the midway point as Calumet led 18-7.

The second set appeared decided even earlier than that. With Pam Torola serving, Calumet ran off 10 points in a row. Ellen Twardzik had four kills in the run, Torola chipped in an ace and it was 11-4.

However, the hosts showed their teeth late on, putting together eight in a row on Amanda Manninen’s serve to get within a single point at 19-18.

“I have a great group of gals, very athletic, very receptive. They’re learning, but you can see us playing in streaks. We were giving up a streak of points, and wonderfully in the second set, we accrued a bunch of points in a row,” Hancock coach Mary Kaminski said.

Hancock’s chance to tie the set ended with a hitting error and led to the Copper Kings getting right back into the same rotation, with Torola serving, that they built the lead with. Calumet finished off the set with six points in a row, including two kills from Ellen Twardzik and one from Rowe.

Kaminski said her team has shown progress already a month into the season and that the place the Copper Kings are already in is something her team can strive for.

“We’ve got to work for all of our points. It seems like it’s coming easy to Calumet, but we’ve got to go ahead and work and that’s just ball control, confidence and that’s basically what it comes down to,” she said.

Catherine Frantti hit a pair of wickedly knuckling serves for aces as part of a seven-point run to give Calumet an 8-1 lead early in the third, and the Bulldogs simply couldn’t get much going. The first point they scored on their serve came at 21-7, just seconds before the fire alarm went off.

After a brief check indoors and an impromptu Calumet dance party outdoors, the Copper Kings went back in and finished the job.

“Our serve reception was good. I thought our players controlled the ball and when we were out of system, they were able to still get a swing,” coach Twardzik said. “There is still room to grow and work to do.”

Ellen Twardzik and Rowe posted 10 kills apiece and combined for just three errors, while Alisa Storm and Loretta Anderson both had five kills. Budreau dished out 27 assists.

Defensively, libero Megan Yeo had a team-best 12 digs. Budreau had seven and Frantti six.

Calumet faces another WestPAC rival Thursday, Houghton, at home.

For Hancock, Manninen had a team-best six kills, while Nicole Anderson had five kills and five aces and Emily Anderson chipped in a pair of kills on just four attempts. Defensively, Shannon Anderson had nine digs and Jen Hannon six.

“We’ve made big strides since early season, so we are learning to be competitive, but then again, it takes every point. We cannot afford to give up streaks of points.”

The Bulldogs are off until next Tuesday, when they take a WestPAC trip to West Iron County.