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In a WestPAC matchup that served as a measuring stick for both teams, the Calumet Copper Kings beat the L’Anse Purple Hornets in four sets on Thursday in the L’Anse Gym, 25-9, 25-13, 24-26, and 25-11. L’Anse was able to string some points together in the third set but, for much of the night, was unable to match the speed and consistency of the Kings.
“I’ve been challenging our girls to play with more consistency and just stay up and (be) aggressive in the game,” said Copper Kings coach Matt Laho. “I thought those first two sets, they were very aggressive with their attack. We had some great digs and (strong) serve receives that allowed us to get (the win).”
The first set was over rather quickly with serve streaks from Danika Billeck and Madison Peterlin allowing the Copper Kings to get comfortable on the court.
Copper Kings libero Ava Anderson who racked up 35 digs and three kills throughout the night, not to mention a seven-point serving run that would give the Kings the lead they needed to take the second set despite a short lived 6-1 lead early in the set from the Purple Hornets.
“She was doing a great job (by) playing a little bit of cat and mouse with the other team,” said Laho. “She’d pick a spot (to serve) and they’d adjust a little bit to try to play there. Then she’d go the other direction and keep them guessing. I thought she did a great job seeing the floor and finding the holes.”
Laho wants his team to celebrate this victory while still keeping their eyes on the big picture.
“We’ve got to keep growing,” he said. “We always talk about how it’s not where we are today, it’s where we’re going to be at the end of the season. We just want to keep taking steps. I thought today we took a big jump forward.”
From strong front row hits to slow back row plays, the Purple Hornets found themselves slightly off the mark in the first two sets of the match.
“It’s the same old story with my girls. It’s a matter of momentum,” said L’Anse coach Callie Budweg. “I keep trying to tell them (to) keep each other pumped up. I don’t think they’re used to seeing as many swings coming at them. Our defense wasn’t adjusting (and) that’s something we need to work on.”
In the third set, the Purple Hornets capitalized on early mistakes from the Copper Kings and pulled off a point-for-point set victory.
“I felt like what we did do, we did well in terms of when we had the attack (and) the pass,” Budweg said, “but there’s work to be done, especially in the last half of this season. I’m hoping that we can use these bigger teams (like) Iron Mountain and Calumet to focus on when districts come.”
With the first half of the high school volleyball season under wraps, Budweg wants her girls to focus in on a stronger defensive attack around the floor and improve their receives.
“Defensively, we’ve got to pick it up,” she said. “Serve receive has always been a struggle for us. (We need to) find that even balance of attacking and serve receive. We’re not quite finding it (yet).”