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2 weeks ago @ 7:23AM

Kings VB Defeats Houghton 3-0

John Christianson, head coach of the Houghton Gremlins volleyball team, summed up his team’s match with the visiting Calumet Copper Kings best.

“That was a volleyball game,” he said.

What is interesting about his comments is that it comes on the heels of a 3-0 loss. The Copper Kings took the Gremlins 25-22, 25-19 and 25-20.

“Yes the girls were disappointed in losing,” Christianson said, “but I told them that the way they played tonight was the closest to playing the style of volleyball we’ve been working towards all year.”

Houghton started out strong in the first set. They controlled the ball for the first seven points under the leadership of their setter, senior Casana Ryynanen.

“She’s our quarterback,” said Christianson, when asked about Ryynanen’s performance.

However the Copper Kings had a little heat of their own in the swings and blocks of Ava Anderson and Elissa Djerf.

“We were just playing sloppy,” said Copper Kings coach Matt Laho. “We were down 12-5 when Djerf came to the service line and put four in row on the board for us. (That gave us) a lot of momentum.”

A big kill by Calumet’s Andrea Kariniemi tied the set at 14 and changed the momentum like any big kill would. She had only four kills in the match, but they proved important. Djerf and Molly Larson each had 10 to lead the Copper Kings on the night.

Ava Anderson led the team defensively with 22 digs.

“That was obviously our biggest set,” said Laho. “When the girls are able to come back from such a deficit, it fires them up to just keep going.”

They did keep going into the second set. With things tied at 6-6 and then again at 8-8 before Calumet turned up the heat on the hosts.

“That is how volleyball is meant to be played,” said Christianson. “There were big blocks, long volleys and deep digs. Both teams played up to the level of competition that was expected.”

For Houghton, junior Daityn Martin led the team with six kills and two block kills. Right behind her was Lindsey Whiting, who had four kills and two block kills.

“In a game like this every point counts,” said Laho. “A missed play here and a missed play there and the momentum changes drastically.”

It was Houghton that had those misplaced balls and it put them down 16-23 before eventually losing that second set.

The third seemed to be a continuation of the second. Calumet took the lead early and worked the ball well. They were up by eight at one point and more than one step ahead on playmaking. That led to frustration on the Gremlins’ side of the court.

“You could see their aggressiveness all night,” said Laho, when asked about his team. “They were moving hits along and setting things up. They have made big strides since we first started. Their attack is better as well as their timing and control.”

Both coaches admitted that the best part of the night was seeing the fun the girls were having. “When it is good volleyball like it was tonight, the crowd gets into it and it creates a real drama,” said Laho.

The Copper Kings moved to 4-1 in WestPAC play with the win, while Houghton fell to 6-1 in conference play.

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