Leland Falls to No. 1 Plymouth Christian in Class D Semis
BATTLE CREEK – Leland’s reign atop Class D ended Friday with a loss to No. 1 Plymouth Christian in a Class D state semifinal at Battle Creek’s Kellogg Arena.
Making the trip to Battle Creek for the fourth consecutive season, the defending state champion Comets fell 3-1 to the Eagles, losing by scores of 15-25, 16-25, 28-26, 15-25.
“I said it all along, I thought they (Plymouth Christian) were the number one team to beat coming in here, that they have the weapons,” Leland coach Laurie Glass said. “I thought their serves caused us difficulty. We couldn’t run an offense that we are normally used to running because our balls were really far off the net for our setters, so that made it challenging.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the way they represented our program, Leland volleyball, the Leelanau to community and the northern Michigan area. You got to beat a lot of really good teams to get here and this moment doesn’t lessen anything that we’ve done to get here and I can guarantee you, they intend to come back here again next year.”
Spotting the Eagles the opening two sets, the Comets led throughout much of the third set but found themselves trailing 22-21 after five consecutive points by Plymouth Christian. After going back and forth over the ensuing seven points, Leland broke free on an ace by Margie Stowe and Julie Bardenhagen’s kill, sealing the come-from-behind win.
The fourth and final set was all Plymouth Christian, however, as the Eagles opened with a commanding 7-0 edge and never relinquished their lead.
Rowan Wilson led the Comet attack with 12 kills, while Allie Martin tallied 11 kills. Bardenhagen led the defensive effort with 27 digs, while Ella Siddall established the offense with 28 assists.
Plymouth Christian (34-11-3) moves on to face No. 6 Auburn Hills Oakland Christian (43-4-5) at 10 a.m. Saturday for the Class D state title. Oakland Christian handed Rogers City a four-set loss in Friday’s earlier semifinal. It marks the first time that either Leland or Battle Creek St. Philip have not appeared in the Class D state championship match since 2001.
Leland graduates five seniors, as Bardenhagen, Natalie Hagstrom, Taylor Stinson, Kira Metcalf and Jennifer McMullen concluded their prep careers Friday.
The Comets end the year at 42-11-4 and are set to return eight athletes next season.