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Wykon volleyball team looks to build off invite

By Jerry DeRoche
IRON RIVER—As the daylong Wykon Invite advanced to its final round, the two top teams throughout the event took to the court to battle for the championship trophy. One of them was host West Iron County.
    The Wykons eventually fell to Ironwood in the two-game match to finish runner-up in the tournament. West Iron wound up with a 10-2 mark on the day, having swept its first five opponents during the seven-team event.
    All in all, it was a good beginning for the 2015 Wykons, who are looking to replace five seniors from last year’s team.
    “For a new group coming together and getting to know each other and then facing tough competition in Ironwood at the end of the day, it was a good learning experience,” West Iron coach Brenda Grubbs said. “So yeah, it was a good way to start.”
    West Iron defeated L’Anse 21-7, 21-8; Stephenson 21-15, 21-6; Dollar Bay 21-2, 21-8; Baraga 21-17, 21-17; and Lake Linden 25-23, 21-10. The Wykons fell to the Red Devils 21-16, 22-20.
    Grubbs said her goal during the opening invite is to see a consistency of focus and performance from her team.
    “When there’s teams of different levels of play, sometimes you play at (the opponent’s) level. And I guess on a day like this, our goal is always to play our hardest, so we’re not playing up-and-down and lazy.”
    Grubbs said she felt there was one down stretch during the day when the team lost its enthusiasm a bit, but otherwise the squad stayed engaged.
    This year’s Wykons team is built around its senior class, which supplies seven of the 11 players on the varsity roster. However, several of the up-erclassmen will have to adjust to new positions this season, according to Grubbs.
    Monica Eagloski moves from left-hitter to middle-hitter, where she will team with Lizzi Pellizzer to replace the two graduated middles from last year.
    “They really haven’t swung from that position before, and this was their first outing,” Grubbs said. “And you realize when they came into practice 10 days ago, they’re like, ‘Oh, I’m playing where?’ So they have to learn a lot.”
    Erin Angeli will team with junior Katilee Rhino to play the setter/outside hitter spots, while senior Rachel Malmquist is the libero this year. Kayley Ponozzo will play defense on the back row and will also enter as a server, while Aly Possanza occupies an outside hitter slot.
    Returning senior outside hitter Mariah Marcell is currently unable to play after suffering an ankle injury over the summer, but Grubbs said she may be back in a couple of weeks.
    Along with Rhino, the junior class adds Reece Deneau and Sarah Kerttu, who will fill in as all-around players, Grubbs said.
    Sophomore Victoria Maloney is up from the junior varsity squad last year and will be an outside hitter, as well.
    “I have people playing in places that they didn’t play last year, so I don’t know about the (team’s) expectations,” Grubbs said. “I want everyone to have the same expectation, that we can win and to want it.”
    The Wykons will take part in the Great Eight Invitational in Iron Mountain this Saturday, Aug. 29, and are scheduled to host Calumet on Sept. 3.