(Volleyball) Calumet, Gwinn advance to regional

GLADSTONE – The Calumet Copper Kings and Gwinn Modeltowners advanced in the Class C regional volleyball tournament by posting victories Tuesday night.

Defending champion Calumet rolled past Ironwood 25-22, 25-11, 25-7 and Gwinn topped St. Ignace 25-18, 25-20, 27-25.

The two winners return to the Gladstone High School gym for Thursday’s title match, which begins at 6:30 p.m.

Calumet seized the momentum in the second set, gaining a 9-2 advantage behind an eight-point service run by junior Catherine Frantti.

“I don’t think we came out with the fire we wanted,” said Calumet coach Lisa Twardzik. “We were a little tight. Catherine was a strong server in the second set. She hit nine points and six were aces. She helped the whole team loosen up.”

Calumet, fueled on a five-point run by senior Loretta Anderson, gained a 6-0 cushion in the finale before the Red Devils got on the board on junior Mariah Beaudette’s kill for a sideout.

Ironwood was still within 7-3 following a net violation, but was unable to get any closer.

In the opener, the Red Devils were within 22-21 after senior Jessica Gering’s block on Anderson.

Calumet then scored three of the last four points, clinching that set on Anderson’s kill.

“We just have to stay in system,” said Twardzik. “I like the fact we’re not depending on just 2-3 hitters. We have strong hitters in every rotation.”

Seniors Alisa Storm and Pam Torola led the Copper Kings at the net with six kills each. Anderson finished with five and junior Lexie Rowe had four.

Frantti finished with seven service aces. Torola added four and Anderson and senior Morgan Yeo had three apiece.

Torola and Frantti were the defensive leaders with 12 digs each and Yeo had 10.

Gering collected five kills and three blocks, including back-to-back kills which gave Ironwood an 11-9 lead in the first set. Beaudette finished with three kills and a block and junior Sarah Johnson had two kills.

“We have a very young team,” said Graham. “With this being our first regional appearance in 11 years, none of our girls knew what this was all about. If we had some nerves, it didn’t show right away. We lost a lot of seniors last year. Not too many people thought we’d make it this far. Overall, our season went very well.”

In the nightcap, Gwinn grabbed a 19-8 advantage on a kill by senior Chelsea Moton.

Gwinn coach Stephanie Bahrman explained what happened next.

“We put some of our non-starters in and they were cold coming off the bench,” she said. “Fortunately, our starters were still warm when we put them back in. The girls kept fighting. They really wanted this one. We’ve been working toward this all year.”

The Modeltowners put their starters back in after the Saints gained a 24-23 lead on a hitting error.

A serving error then left the teams tied at 24 and Gwinn regained the lead on a kill by senior Bella Wedig.

The Saints tied the score once more on a kill by junior Angela Donajkowski.

Wedig, however, provided a kill for a sideout and Moton secured the decision with a kill on a pass from senior setter Kaylee Arnsparger moments later.

“This means a lot to us,” Bahrman said, noting Gwinn hasn’t won a regional since the 1990s. “To win this in three games gives the girls a lot of confidence. Calumet is going to be a tough team to beat. But if we bring our A game, it will be a very good match.”

Gwinn, behind a seven-point run by junior Ashley Childs, quickly built an 8-0 advantage in the finale.

The Saints climbed within 10-6, but Wedig’s kill for a sideout enabled Gwinn to regain the momentum.

In the first set, St. Ignace trailed just 21-18 after junior Micaela O’Rourke’s tip for a kill.

Gwinn then got a sideout on a hitting error, then scored the final three points with Wedig’s kill sealing the deal.

St. Ignace was also within 21-18 in the second set following a two-hit violation by the Modeltowners.

The Saints then committed a pair of hitting errors as Gwinn gained an insurmountable 23-18 advantage.

St. Ignace senior outside hitter Emily Hinsman collected nine kills, many for sideouts. She also had two service aces and five digs. Morgan LaVake added seven kills and 11 digs and junior Sarah Smith had four kills.

“Emily was on tonight,” said coach LaVake. “She really played well. I think the girls are going to realize how nice it is to be in this position. I think this will motivate these kids to work on their game in the off-season.”

The Saints, who captured a Class D district title a year ago, played without senior Kelley Wright who’s nursing a knee injury.