Prep volleyball: Eskymos tough at home, edge Mountaineers in five sets

ESCANABA – The Escanaba Eskymos took care of their home court for the second straight night Tuesday, earning a 3-2 volleyball victory (23-25, 25-17, 25-11, 17-25, 15-7) over the Iron Mountain Mountaineers.

Esky, which beat Manistique in four sets Monday, used a five-point service run by junior Alyssa Polequin to take charge in the deciding set against the Mountaineers.

Iron Mountain scored first in the finale. Esky then got a side-out and Polequin added an ace at the end of her run for a 6-1 cushion.

“Before the fifth set we told the girls volleyball is a game of spurts and to play like they’re ahead,” said Esky coach Christa Erickson. “Getting the lead was huge, especially with rally scoring.”

The Eskymos lengthened their advantage to as much as 13-3 before Iron Mountain got a side-out and capitalized on three hitting errors to close within 13-7.

Esky then got a side-out of its own and won it on a serve receive error.

Iron Mountain senior Kristen Gendron started the fourth set with a kill as the visitors then built a 4-0 lead.

Esky was still within 14-12 following an Iron Mountain serving error. Soon after, however, the Mountaineers began to pull away.

“Iron Mountain is a very strong and disciplined team,” said Erickson. “We knew they were coming after us. It was nice to see our girls weren’t getting flustered. They really played as a team.”

Coach Jeanne Newberry was pleased with the improvement shown by the Mountaineers, who dropped all four of their matches in Saturday’s Kingsford Invitational on their home floor.

“We played a lot better than we did on Saturday,” she said. “We just had to know we could win. We came out with a sense of urgency in Game 4 and the girls walked out of that set with momentum. But Escanaba got on to our serve receives and they served well. It came down to where the team which made the fewer errors won.”

After Iron Mountain secured the first set on a hitting error, Esky started the second by taking a quick 4-0 lead.

The Eskymos then used a six-point service run by senior Ashley Cook to take charge in Game 3.

“The girls did a great job,” said Erickson. “We had better communication tonight, which led to better serving and defense. We wanted more swings and attacks on the ball. Once the girls calmed down, the number of freeballs we gave up diminished.”

Esky, which dropped the jayvee match in straight sets, travels to Negaunee Tuesday.

Iron Mountain junior Marti Pirkola collected 11 kids and was 15-of-15 serving. Classmate Cassie Feira added six kills. Junior setter Bri Geyser had 17 assists and was 10-of-11 serving. Sophomore Susie Hagan added 14 assists and Gendron was 11-of-12 serving.

“Kristen (Gendron) was all over the floor tonight,” said Newberry. “Here’s a senior who didn’t get a lot of playing time last year and now is one of our go-to girls. Even though we didn’t win, I’m proud of the effort the girls gave.”

The Mountaineers are idle until Sept. 5 when they host Negaunee and North Dickinson.