By BURT ANGELI
KINGSFORD - Kingsford weathered a third-game tussle and swept Escanaba 3-0 (25-17, 25-19, 25-20) in Great Northern Conference volleyball Tuesday.
Burt Angeli/The Daily News Photo
Kingsford’s Lauren Smith (18) finds plenty of help after hitting the volleyball past Escanaba’s Kamille Fritz (5) in Tuesday’s Great Northern Conference match. Ready to assist Smith are Sammie Lindeman (from left), Lillian Slajus (14), Amber Larson (2) and Sammie Zander (7).
The Flivvers built early leads in the first two games and held off the Eskymos. Escanaba battled to a 17-17 draw in the third game before Kingsford pulled ahead.
"This was a much better performance than Saturday," said Coach Steve Andrews, referring to the Great Eight Tournament at Iron River. "We couldn't do anything right."
Andrews wanted to see how his young Flivvers would react in the difficult third game. Sammie Zander delivered a pair of spikes at crunch time while Emily Murdock and Lauren Smith also came through.
"They needed a little push back there where they weren't constantly in front," Andrews said. "They had to dig deep a little bit, suck it up and play."
After the third-game deadlock at 17, Kingsford reeled off six points to Escanaba's two, including a Sydney Gafner slam to make it 23-19.
"They beat us in hitting and our serving killed us," Eskymos coach Christa Erickson said. "They're (Kingsford) great hitters with a nice middle and our cover wasn't there for the blocks."
She also cited Kingsford's communication.
"They were talking the whole time on the court," Erickson said.
Back-to-back kills from Maria Wiltzius helped spark the Flivvers in the first game. She was also a catalyst in the third game with three of Kingsford's final four points.
Andrews was pleased to see errors didn't lead to more errors.
"It's a young bunch and the problem they have is when they make mistakes they get into that 'self island anger meltdown' and they can't come out," Andrews said. "They know they're a great attacking team. Their passing is improving every day and still getting better.
"They're a good team. They have to be able to endure mistakes and stay mentally in it. That takes time but they're on the right track."
Gafner, five, and Aalysiah Spencer, three, led the Eskymos in kills. Setter Alexa Langsford had 10 assists.
Erickson said senior Ashley Cook "worked her butt off and did really really well on the floor" with 11 digs.
Escanaba dropped to 0-2 in the GNC. Kingsford, with a 2-0 GNC mark, plays a non-league match Thursday at North Dickinson's Carl F. Lemin Gymnasium.
"Our main goal is districts that's what we play for," said Andrews, who placed the GNC second and tourney invites third on his list of priorities. "But we want to compete every night."
Kingsford's junior varsity climbed to 4-0 with a 25-22, 25-23 decision over Escanaba.
Coach Jerry Roberge cited the hitting of Madison Bethke and Brianna Robinson; passing of Hannah Carlson and Mariah Clement, and perfect serving from Sierra Fortner and Kailee Drake.