Esky falls in semis at Kingsford

Adam Niemi | Iron Mountain Daily News Escanaba’s Anna Smith (14) jumps to block the shot of Carney-Nadeau’s Heidi Kirschner during the Kingsford Invitational Friday at Kingsford. The Eskymos fell to Calumet in the semifinals.

KINGSFORD — The Escanaba Eskymos recovered from a rough start in their season-opening volleyball meet here Friday, reaching the semifinals of the Kingsford Invitational.

Esky, which fell to Marquette 18-10, 18-12 in its opener, then beat Iron Mountain (18-9, 18-13) and split with Carney-Nadeau (18-16, 11-18) in its pool.

The Eskymos then swept Carney 18-7, 18-9 in bracket play before falling to Calumet (18-13, 18-12) in the semifinals.

“For the beginning of the season, it was a great effort,” said Esky jayvee coach Lisa Gagnon, who filled in for varsity mentor Adam Lambert.

“Calumet definitely doesn’t leave you much margin for error. They don’t leave many holes on their side of the court. They’re definitely a good team.”

Marquette then beat Calumet 18-12, 18-13 for the title after taking a 19-17, 18-13 decision from Kingsford in the other semifinal.

Esky trailed Calumet 11-6 in the first set before rallying to tie the score at 13 on a kill by senior Tess Henderson. The Copper Kings then scored the last five points to close the set.

The second set was tied at six before Calumet got a sideout on a service error.

Senior Molly Larson served for the next five points, including two aces, giving the Copper Kings a 12-6 advantage.

Esky trimmed its deficit to 15-11 on a kill by junior middle hitter Nicole Kamin, but was unable to get any closer.

“Nicole is definitely our leader at the net,” said Gagnon. “We try to get her as many touches as we can. I thought Maddy Block and Tess Henderson did a great job setting and Jalin Olson digs everything up.”

In bracket play, Esky led Carney-Nadeau 7-6 in the first set prior to getting a sideout.

The Eskymos, behind a nine-point service run by Olson, then gained an insurmountable 17-6 advantage.

“That was a big turning point right there,” said Gagnon.

“Carney is very scrappy. They cover a lot of holes. Steve (coach Kedsch) teaches them to get around on the floor.”

The Wolves led 5-4 in the second set before the Eskymos got a sideout and took the lead on a kill by Kamin.

Esky’s lead reached 11-8 on three consecutive aces by Olson before a hitting miscue chopped its cushion to two. The Eskymos then sealed the verdict by scoring the last seven points.

“We were up and down today,” said Kedsch. “We played well in some matches and not as well in others. We weren’t moving our feet and made too many mistakes on our side of the court. I guess we’ll call it early-season blues. We preach communication, moving our feet and playing with energy. When we do that, we tend to play well.”

Junior Taylor Kedsch led the Wolves with 23 kills and 17 digs. Classmate Liana Blahnik added 18 kills and 17 digs and Haley Ernest recorded 46 assists. Jules Thoune was their defensive leader with 19 digs and Sandra Boulton had 17.

“We had good hitting from Liana and Taylor, but as a team we need to be more consistent,” said coach Kedsch.

The Wolves split with Iron Mountain (15-18, 18-15) and Marquette (18-15, 13-18) before splitting with the Eskymos in pool play.

Esky hosts Gladstone and the Wolves host North Central Tuesday.

Carney-Nadeau — Boulton (three aces, six kills, 17 digs); Blahnik (two aces, 18 kills, 17 digs); Thoune (two aces, five kills, three assists, 19 digs); Kedsch (23 kills, 17 digs); Ernest (46 assists, eight digs); Poupore (eight digs).