The Copper Kings have their pregame routine down to a science. It all starts with a locker room dance party — though their skills clearly lie elsewhere.
“None of us are any good,” senior Lea Bjorn said with a laugh.
Then, they talk about the upcoming game and have some quiet time to reflect.
Somewhere along the way, Amber Johnson will find time to watch Olympic volleyball highlights to get herself in the zone.
Then the fun is over and it’s time to play.
They follow the same routine every game, no matter the stakes. They followed it the first three times they met Houghton this season, and they will follow it Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in Calumet when the teams clash in the district playoffs. This time, it’s win or go home.
“I think they are hungry, they want to continue this season as long as possible,” head coach Matt Laho said.
Calumet won all three of the previous meetings with Houghton, but each match was close. This time, Laho expects more of the same.
“In all three of the games that we played them, early on we made a lot of errors on balls that we should have controlled,” he said. I think the biggest thing that we are working on right now is just making sure that we force them to have to play the ball.”
With two evenly-matched teams, the difference will come down to who makes the least amount of mistakes. And the Copper Kings are hoping for near-perfect execution.
“It is really just a focus thing,” Johnson said. “We have to minimize errors.”
Calumet has also been practicing comeback situations, in case Houghton gets a lead. The ability to come from behind has been a strength of the Copper Kings this season, and Laho wants to see that continue.
“We set up lots of those scenarios in practice so they are used to it, and I think that carries over into the games,” he said.
The Copper Kings will also be looking to combat the Gremlin’s serving ability, one of their strengths.
“We are expecting hard, deep serves so we will have to read where they are going to land,” Bjorn said.
Laho like’s his team’s odds in the match, citing its balance, both offensively and defensively, and discipline as strengths.
“I think with all of those pieces, you can be competitive at any level,” he said.
The winner hosts the district final against the winner of Chassell vs. Hancock