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If you ask a coach when they want their team to start putting it all together, most coaches would suggest that the second half of the year, as the conference or district tournament looms just on the horizon, would be an ideal time. Based on the stretch the Calumet Copper Kings are on, they appear to be doing exactly that right now.
The Copper Kings continued their winning ways on the volleyball court Thursday at home as they beat the Gwinn Modeltowners in straight sets. The sets went 25-19, 25-23 and 25-17.
This was the Copper Kings’ second win this week against tough opponents. On Tuesday, they defeated a sharp Houghton squad in three sets as well.
“One of the things that impresses me with these girls is their desire to keep moving forward and keep growing and tonight was another example of how we are doing that,” said Calumet head coach Matt Laho.
The Calumet Gym was loud and enthusiastic for the first set and so were the players. Gwinn pulled out in front with a 4-1 lead but a service run of four by Copper Kings senior Mackenzie Peters brought them in to the lead and they never looked back.
At one point the hosts were up by as many as seven. The Copper Kings’ Molly Larson was relentless in drilling balls to the Modeltowners’ back row that they couldn’t handle. She had 13 kills on the night.
In the opening set, Celia Kiilunen added to Gwinn’s misery as she masterfully pushed a number of balls over that couldn’t be returned.
“Our setters are getting better at putting the ball where it needs to be and they can sense who are the big hitters now,” said Laho.
In the second set, Calumet kept the scoring train rolling until their opponent evened things at 5-5. Gwinn picked up their game, particularly at the net, denying a number of easy kills for Calumet.
Brooke Mannor led the Modeltowners with 10 kills and added 10 digs on defense.
The second set continued to bounce back and forth. An ace by the Modeltowners’ Emily Curtice tied the game at 13-13.
However, Larson was again key with her big outside swing that seemed, at times, unstoppable as was her tall block.
“Defense has been outstanding,” Laho said. “Our libero, Ava Anderson, really quarterbacks the defense.
“She does a great job of letting the girls know where they need to be on the floor.”
Anderson was all over the floor, racking up 26 digs.
In the third set, Calumet ran away with things as they led by at least seven most of the set.
“It was the best three-set loss we’ve ever played,” said Gwinn coach Toni Roberts. “This was a good team and our girls stuck it out. You tend to play up to the level of your competition, and I think our girls did their best. We are a better team because of it.”
The Modeltowners are now 4-5 on the season. The Copper Kings improved to 7-0 in WestPAC play.