No. 5 Leland Sweeps No. 10 Rudyard, Sets Up Rematch with Mendon

BATTLE CREEK – Leland punched its ticket to its second straight MHSAA Division 4 state final and set up a rematch with defending state champion Mendon after a straight-set sweep of Rudyard in a semifinal Thursday at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek.

Taking on the 10th-ranked Bulldogs for a spot in their fourth state title match since 2014, the fifth-ranked Comets made quick work of the semifinal, winning by scores of 25-21, 25-14, 25-15.

Leland (44-14-3) will now face a top-ranked Mendon (39-9-6) team that rallied for a five-set win (27-25, 17-25, 19-25, 25-22, 15-13) over fourth-ranked Southfield Christian in Thursday’s first semifinal. The Hornets took last year’s meeting against Leland in straight sets for its fourth state title in program history.

“We’re all definitely really excited,” Leland senior Gillian Grobbel said following Thursday’s match. “We’ve been looking forward to this.”

Tatum Kareck paced the Comet offense with a match-high 13 kills while Leland’s lone senior in Grobbel added 11 kills. Jana Molby recorded 36 assists and Olivia Lowe registered 16 digs.

Nina Alpers led the Rudyard attack Thursday with eight kills while Sara Beelen tallied six. Beelen also led the way defensively with 10 digs while Chesney Molina had eight assists.

Thursday’s semifinal appearance was the first for Rudyard (35-5-3) since the MHSAA combined the Upper and Lower Peninsula state tournaments in 2000. The Bulldogs won their second regional championship this fall and first since 2017 and are set to graduate their lone senior in Alpers.

“We’re just really proud to be here,” Alpers said. “I think we could have fought a little harder, but just to be here made my senior year is really good.”

“We had a nice balance this year,” Rudyard coach Ellen Perry added. “That’s the secret formula, and the thing is the formula changes every year.”

With an Eastern U.P. Conference championship and district and regional titles to its credit, Rudyard wraps up its season at 35-5-3.

Saturday’s state championship match between Leland and Mendon is set for 10 a.m.

Categories: Volleyball