After Saturday's Michigan Tech volleyball season finale against Saginaw Valley State, I and others were milling around the SDC Gym.
Stephen Anderson was handling the interviews, I was just there to enjoy an exciting match and trying to decide if it was worth it to go out into the rain to my car and make an ATM run: A lazy Saturday in Houghton.
Rarely do column lead ideas descend from the heavens, but as the basketball goals slowly lurched their way down from the ceiling, there it was, like a gift from the Almighty. For a sports editor like me, there was no surer sign that winter would be upon us by the 5 p.m. tip-off of the women's basketball game between the Huskies and Concordia-St. Paul.
Yes, winter practices are upon us - there's even a Hancock hockey game at Marquette Friday night. But before the nets and antennae are stowed away and the hoops hung, let's take a moment to recognize the best of this recently concluded volleyball season.
Some day I hope to read or write about an All-U.P. volleyball team, but until then, here's the best in our area this year, the Third Annual Daily Mining Gazette All-Area team.
I'll start with the last team standing: the Calumet Copper Kings. I'm sure they'd rather be reading the Battle Creek Enquirer this morning, but these four Copper Kings more than earned this consolation prize.
Senior setter Kayleen Anderson picked wisely from a variety of great options in directing Calumet this year.
Like Tigers catcher Alex Avila when dealing with pitcher Justin Verlander, Anderson could call for the fastball, represented in this column by sophomore middle hitter Ellen Twardzik, or the curve, personified by senior Kristy Lasanen.
Twardzik, back into competition after a knee injury in January, will be a powerful option in the middle for years to come. Lasanen, though smaller in stature, has developed expertise in hitting the corners.
Even Justin Verlander can't strike out every batter (Or can he?), which means it's important to have defenders out there who can handle the ball when it's put into play. Fulfilling that role for the Copper Kings was senior libero Terra Erkkila.
Yeah, Terra's not tall. But neither is Houston second baseman Jose Altuve (5-foot-5), and both are All-Stars, one in the WestPAC and one in the National League.
Now, I'm going to stop the baseball analogy before I think too much about the World Series and start crying.
Let's jump to Lake Linden-Hubbell, where a pair of senior hitters made sure the Lakes remained in control of the Class D scene.
Seniors Mandy Perreault and Brittni Kisul led LL-H to three straight Mountain Lakes Conference championships and even a win over Houghton for the first time in six years.
Rounding out the top group is Houghton senior middle Blaire Zenner, the WestPAC most valuable player. Did you get that one right in last week's reader quiz column?
For our 2012 second team, I'm selecting sophomore Lexie Rowe of Calumet, senior Molly Loukus of Calumet, Hancock senior Katelyn Anderson, LL-H junior Ciara Larson, L'Anse junior Valerie Rajala,Houghton senior Natalie Datto and Baraga senior Rebecca Larson.