Victory for Calumet, progress for LL-H

CALUMET – So, Lake Linden-Hubbell took a set off Calumet in non-conference volleyball Tuesday night.

It might not sound like much, especially since the Copper Kings controlled the other three for a 3-1 (25-16, 25-14, 24-26, 25-12) victory, but considering no one else in the U.P. has done it this year, the hosts will call it a win and the visitors will call it progress.

“That was a moral victory. There’s no question it was a great joy from that,” Lakes coach Karen Keranen said.

Tuesday’s game was more than just an exercise, both because the visitors tenaciously dug up an abnormal percentage of Calumet’s attacks and because they had to reshuffle their game plan after losing junior Ellen Twardzik to an injury just a handful of plays in.

“You’re going to face adversity and you can fold or you can rise to the occasion and our girls did that tonight,” Calumet coach Lisa Twardzik said.

Ellen Twardzik watched most of the game from the Calumet bench with ice on her right knee, though early indications appear that the injury was not structural in nature. The powerful middle has recovered from ACL tears in both knees over the last two school years.

In her absence, the Copper Kings had offense to spare. Lexie Rowe posted 11 kills, while tall blockers Alisa Storm and Loretta Anderson recorded nine apiece.

On the other side, the Lakes rode their biggest offensive threat, senior Ciara Larson, to 11 kills, though after a while, the Calumet barrage became too tough to handle.

“Our sets became a little more off the net, we couldn’t sharpen our hits. With Calumet, you’ve got to have power on the net. We tried to spread that out a little bit, but Ciara got tired and our outsides just weren’t powerful enough and they were getting most everything we got at them,” Keranen said.

Having lost the first set and fallen out of contention in the second after Pam Torola’s seven-point service run made it 23-13, the Lakes appeared to be on the verge of getting swept out, but with Carli Ongie serving, they rattled off six points in a row to go ahead 8-6 in the third. Calumet inched ahead 19-16, the Lakes surged ahead 20-19, the Kings jumped back up 23-20 and the Lakes pulled close at 23-22.

Calumet gained a match point on a LL-H hitting error, but an Abby McConnon kill took care of the first one, a Sarah Audette ace tied it up, the Lakes took the lead when Calumet was judged in the net on the next point, and they won the set when Anderson’s attack flew inches beyond the back line.

“They learned not to get down. They stayed positive. That’s huge for our team, this year in particular,” Keranen said.

In the third set, the Lakes dug up 21 Calumet attacks after posting just 14 in the previous two sets combined.

“In set three our kill efficiency was low and we made a lot of hitting errors. Give credit to Lake Linden, they played well and dug everything,” coach Twardzik said.

The Lakes had 18 more in the fourth, but after scoring the first three points, they struggled to find the floor on Calumet’s side.

The Kings rattled off seven points in a row on Megan Yeo’s serve for a 13-6 lead, and finished it off with five in a row: four LL-H hitting errors and a match-winning kill from Storm.

Saturday, Calumet navigates uncharted waters, traveling west to play in a tournament at Duluth, Minn.

“We anticipate a faster game and so, that will challenge us to speed up our defense and our reaction time and hopefully allow our girls to see that they too can certainly run a quicker tempo,” coach Twardzik said.

Yeo had 16 digs for the winners from her libero position, with Rowe and Torola adding a dozen apiece.

Terilynne Budreau posted 36 assists.

For LL-H, four players had at least 10 digs, led by Erin Gast’s 17. Audette had 12, with Larson and Morgan Codere totaling 11 each.

The Lakes return to league play with a Thursday match at Ewen-Trout Creek.