Houghton Wins Rock Volleyball Tournament | News, Sports, Jobs


The Houghton volleyball team poses with The Rock trophy after defeating Kingsford in the championship game on Saturday, September 10, 2022 in Gladstone, Michigan (Justin St. Ours/Escanaba Daily Press)

GLADSTONE — The same game as a year ago went in the opposite direction at the Rock Volleyball Tournament in Gladstone on Saturday.

In the championship game, Houghton and Kingsford faced each other, and Houghton exacted revenge for last year’s loss, toppling Kingsford 2-0 (25-18, 25-23) to bring the Rock home.

“We came last year and lost to Kingsford in the final, so that was kind of a round of redemption for us.” said Gremlins trainer Blaire Zenner. “So I was super excited that we could play them again today and take care of business here.

“I think the whole game against Kingsford was the highlight for everyone. It was a team effort. We knew with the pace Kingsford were playing it was going to be the toughest of the day and we were able to control most of the game. We just did our best to make the smart plays.”

With the tournament’s matches being best-of-three for the sake of expediency, Kingsford – already down a set – fought back to take his second lead of the match (18-17) against an ace by Jenna Viau.

“We served a little more aggressively (in the second set)” said Flivvers coach Jaclynn Kreider. “We scored a few points with that, and that helped. We also attacked the ball. I feel like we fought in those two sets in the league game where we didn’t attack. We sort of guessed ourselves, and we had some unforced errors. You can’t give points to a team like Houghton – you have to make them work for it. We got a little scared.”

However, the Flivvers immediately gave up the lead with a serve to the net, but a mistake on the Gremlins’ side, a net injury, gave Kingsford back an opportunity to force a third set. Then a return to the net from Houghton gave the Flivvers a 20-18 lead.

The Gremlins made their own rally, turning a Flivvers out-of-bounds return into a 23-20 advantage after a four-point run from Stella Wickstrom.

“[Keeping composure through changing leads]was one of the areas where we struggled last year and we couldn’t turn that into a win.” Zenner said. “So to see the same situation today and push through and end up at the top was tremendous.

“Stella Wickstrom was part of the All-Tournament Team and was a big part of our front row. Jiani Tang also played a big role in our back row, as did Bryn Lamppa and Clea Ollanketo.”

A timeout put the Flivvers back in the middle and a spike from Maddy Kreider tied the second set at 23.

Houghton then used a timeout of his own, leading to a spike from Danica Ryynanen to regain the ball and an ace from Laney Johnson sealed the match and the title.

The Gremlins sailed smoother in the first set, Clea Ollanketo steering a six-point run early on to put some distance between himself and the Flivvers.

Kingsford reduced his deficit to just one at center (17-16) thanks to a kill from Kailey Sundquist and a short run – and an ace – from Maddy Kreider.

“Each set we played in it, it was a different girl that showed up.” said coach Kreider. :We had different servers taking over the game at different times. We really did break in a new set with one of our middles and I think she did a great job today. That was Kailey Sundquist. She also played a little bit injured today so I think if we were testing someone today it was her.”

The Gremlins retired shortly after after kills from Wickstrom and Bryn Lamppa.

To reach the championship game, Kingsford toppled Menominee and Houghton beat Carney-Nadeau (25-10, 25-19).

The Gremlins finished the first set against Wolves on an eight-point run, and two aces from Johnson and a five-point run, including three aces, from Tang gave Houghton an early advantage.

Wolves reduced their lead to 10-8 on an ace by Samantha Kedsch, but it was as close as they would get to a lead.

“We just wanted to play the best ball we could play at Carney,” Wolves coach Steve Kedsch said. “We just wanted to recover (from a down match on Thursday). I’m pretty proud of how the girls fought today. We’re dealing with some bigger schools and competition that was very tough for us, but we kept playing hard.

“I think some of our players in the back row who don’t get a lot of credit did very well today. Gracie DuPont had a good first half today. Marissa Thompson … stepped in and did a good pass service today and played good defense.

Carney welcomes Florence, Wisconsin on Monday, Kingsford welcomes Menominee on Tuesday, and Houghton welcomes Negaunee on Thursday.

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