Gladstone falls to Ishpeming
ISHPEMING — It didn’t take long for the Ishpeming High School volleyball team to do what it wanted to in a home match on Tuesday evening against Gladstone.
Short, sweet and to the point, the Hematites cruised to a three-set victory, 25-10, 25-15, 25-17.
Ishpeming got into a groove early with good serving. The Braves struggled all night long with receiving Ishpeming serves, including a 16-point serving run by Sonja Kiviniemi.
If Gladstone was able to return to it, the play usually ended in a kill by one of Ishpeming’s two offensive leaders — Addison Morton and Faith Loman.
The Hematites’ duo combined for 13 kills, but it was strong serving early that got them a big lead.
“That was solid, Sonja is a great server for us,” Ishpeming coach Katt Beerling said. “I love her aggressiveness at the end line and control, and even greater than her controlling things back there, we had other people on the court fighting to keep her serve back there. It was really a team effort.”
The Hematites took an early 5-3 lead in the first set behind the serving of Payton Manninen and several kills by Morton. The Braves stormed back to take a 7-6 lead, and then came Kiviniemi’s 16-point barrage that turned a 7-7 tie into an insurmountable 23-7 Hematites advantage.
Kiviniemi led all players with seven service aces as the nagging serve receive issue wouldn’t go away for the Braves. While GHS scored a couple more points in the set, the Hematites won the opening set easily.
“I think they had really strong serves, and we struggled with serve receive at first,” Gladstone coach Averi Kanyuh said. “We were a little bit late adjusting to the ball, but I think we did a better job of reading their hitters and our blocks. Then we improved in passing as the sets went on.”
Gladstone did improve, but it proved to be too little, too late. Both the second and third sets started even before IHS pulled away. In the second set, the Braves got kills from Meagan Stier and Maia Nelson and stayed in range, trailing just 14-12. That’s when Kiviniemi came back up to serve for Ishpeming and delivered four more points to boost the lead to another comfortable level. To finish off the set, Emily Morton connected on a kill, and Loman served for the final four points.
The third set was closer for an even longer number of points, with the Hematites maintaining a slim 17-16 lead. But Gladstone still had trouble stopping the Hematites’ runs.
This time it was Addison Morton’s turn to serve, and she led the Hematites to seven straight points to make it 24-16.
Closing the match out was Mya Hemmer, a freshman who was recently called up to varsity and shown with two kills down the stretch. The Hematites’ offense, especially their middles, delivered to lead the way.
“I have three solid middles, it’s been fun getting them in there and moving them around,” Beerling said. “We brought Mya (Hemmer) up last week, and she’s done great for us, and Addison (Morton) and Kaitlyn (Van Deuren) are also strong middles for us, too.
“My outsides did well, my right sides did well, like I said, it really was a team effort.”
Morton led all players with seven kills, while Loman had six. In addition to her seven aces, Kiviniemi had six digs, while Manninen made 18 set assists.
Stier led the Braves with six kills of her own.
Both teams get a week off before the Hematites host Manistique on Tuesday.