The Calumet Copper Kings left nothing to chance Tuesday night as they rolled past the St. Ignace Saints 3-0 (25-10, 25-12, 25-14) in a Class C regional volleyball opener at Gladstone High School.
Calumet quickly built a 4-0 lead in the opening set, with senior Brooke Karaniemi blocking a shot by St. Ignace senior Linnee Gustafson for the fourth point.
The victory enables the Copper Kings to face West Iron County in Thursday’s regional final at Gladstone or L’Anse. The Wykons defeated Westwood 3-0 in an earlier semifinal.
Calumet gained a 9-3 lead on a service error by the Saints, then followed that with a 10-1 run for a 19-4 advantage.
St. Ignace scored the next three points, trimming its deficit to 19-7 on a block by Gustafson.
Calumet, however, didn’t allow the Saints to get any closer.
“We played good defense,” said Calumet coach Matt Laho. “We noticed they were going to the outside which opened the middle for us. They (Saints) hustled and worked hard. They sent a lot of stuff over, but we were able to execute. Anytime you’re away from home, you need to get started early. The faster you get started, the better.”
The Copper Kings scored the first two points in the second set on kills by seniors Lea Bjorn and Brooke Kariniemi
Back-to-back kills by Gustafson, however, enabled the Saints to pull even at two.
A kill by senior Keshia Davis gave St. Ignace a 7-6 lead. But the Saints then committed a service error, leaving the score tied at seven
After the teams exchanged points, the Saints had another serving miscue and trailed 9-8
Senior Amber Johnson then served for 10 straight points, putting the Copper Kings up 19-8.
The Saints trimmed the deficit to 19-11 on an ace by junior Madison Olsen before Calumet finished that set with a 6-1 run.
St. Ignace gained a 4-1 lead in the third set. Johnson then served for seven consecutive points, including an ace, to send Calumet ahead 9-4.
The Saints climbed within 9-6 prior to another service error which extended Calumet’s lead to four points.
Calumet continued to extend its lead through the remainder of the finale, ending it on an ace by junior Celia Kiilunen.
“They (Saints) had some holes in their defense,” said Bjorn, who finished 19 kills and a block. “We’re glad to be able to take advantage of those. St. Ignace was scrappy and many of their girls are good athletes. Coming in, I didn’t know what to expect from them.”
Senior Brea Johnson collected 21 assists and 12 digs. Amber Johnson led Calumet on defense with 26 digs and junior Ava Anderson had 14.
“I thought we played well as a team,” said Laho. “The girls did a nice job backing each other.”
Calumet — Bjorn (three aces, 19 kills, two blocks, eight digs); A. Johnson (three aces, 26 digs); Larson (three aces); B. Johnson (two aces, three kills, 21 assists, 12 digs); B. Anderson (two aces, eight assists, four digs); Kiilunen (one ace, six kills, one block, six digs); Kariniemi (one kill, seven blocks, one assist, two digs); Spence (one kill, five blocks); Wickstrom (three blocks, one dig); A. Anderson (14 digs).