Battle Creek – Leland put an end to Battle Creek St. Philip's record run of nine consecutive state volleyball championships Saturday, sweeping the Tigers 25-20, 25-23, 25-23 in the Class D title match at Kellogg Arena.
Leland (49-7-4) put on a show defensively and had a big hitter in 5-foot-10 senior Maddie Trumbull in earning its first state title since 2006, when it defeated St. Philip. That was the last time the Tigers had lost in the championship match, until Saturday.
The Tigers (46-17-2) also played well defensively and showed the heart of a champion in defeat. Trailing 21-16 in Game 3, they battled back by scoring six unanswered points to take a 22-21 lead before falling due to the outstanding hitting of Trumbull and great defense of freshman outside hitter Allie Martin.
"This is amazing," said Trumbull, who had a team-high 14 kills along with 14 digs. "I will remember this forever. Being in the Final Four (in 2013), then losing in the state final last year gave us motivation for this."
Trumbull believed Leland could sweep St. Philip.
"The first game I thought we could beat them three-to-nothing," Trumbull said. "We saw that we got into their heads. You could see it in their faces. We just picked it up, picked it up and wore them down."
Leland coach Laurie Glass was thrilled with the title, especially after losing to the Tigers in the championship match a year ago. She said Leland's offense was much better than in its semifinal win over Crystal Falls Forest Park.
"We have all season long run a pretty fast offense and run a lot of different things," said Glass, who has been head coach at Leland the last 21 years. "On Thursday when we played in the semifinals we weren't able to pass well enough to do that. I thought today we passed well enough to run a variety of options and a lot faster balls, which kept them off their game. I also thought we served very well."
Trumbull said Leland played well defensively against St. Philip senior outside hitter Abby McKinzie (14 kills) and the Tigers, who had a .078 hitting percentage.
"We just put up a strong block on her," said Trumbull of Leland's play on McKinzie. "We had a strong cover and that was how we took her out (of her game)."
As for coming back from the 22-21 deficit to prevent a comeback, Trumbull said: "In practice the starting team is usually down 18-to-20 or 18-to-19, so we're used to digging ourselves out. So, that was something we do every day in practice."
St. Philip coach Vicky Groat was trying to earn a record 11th state championship. It didn't happen. She was impressed with Leland's play and proud of her players as well.
"They played well and they kept hitting," said Groat of Leland. "They took us out of our comfort zone. We couldn't swing at the ball because we couldn't pass-serve very well, and when you can't pass, the setting is off, the hitting is off. They just did what they had to do to beat us.
"That's the better team tonight. Great team, great coach. I'm happy for Laurie. It's been a long time, '06, but I'm also very proud of these girls (Tigers). There was no quit in them. We did amazing things this season."
Martin had six kills and a team-high 15 digs, setter Ella Siddall had 30 assists for Leland and Julie Bardenhagen had 10 digs.
McKinzie won three state championships, earning one with her older sister Amanda, who earned four titles, also winning Miss Volleyball in 2012.
"I think they did a good job of limiting their errors on their side," noted McKinzie. "I think that's really what killed us -- we made some errors that we wouldn't normally make on our side and that just got their momentum going."