Plymouth Christian uses key come from behind wins to sweep Lansing Christian in regional final
Canton – When Plymouth Christian, a young team with just one senior, played host to Lansing Christian in Thursday night’s regional final, the Eagles had the look of a much more experienced team.
Plymouth Christian, the No. 1 ranked team in Class D, used two big comeback wins on Thursday night, overcoming a 24-19 deficit in game one and 18-13 in game three, to earn a sweep over Lansing Christian, 28-26, 25-13 and 27-25, to earn the school’s first regional title since 2011.
Plymouth Christian coach DJ Kellogg said that he was proud of the way his team was able to battle back on multiple occasions in Thursday’s match.
“Every game is different and every match is different,” he said. “But certainly coming from behind in two of the three games and going to extra points is more than I can ask for, they did a great job.”
In the first game, Plymouth Christian (31-5-1) would overcome a slow start to take a 15-13 lead after a kill from Olivia Mady, but Lansing Christian (32-11-1) would respond with an 11-4 run, highlighted by a pair of kills from junior Paige Porter to take a 24-19 lead.
But after that, Mady would take over the game.
The sophomore outside hitter would register five straight kills to tie the first game up at 24-24, and after Lansing Christian’s Grace Meunier briefly gave the Pilgrims the lead back after a kill, a block by Mady, followed by a kill by Grace Kellogg would give the Eagles a 26-25 lead.
“I told our setter to set the hot hitter,” DJ Kellogg said of Mady’s success late in the first game. “She was the one that was hot, she was seeing the court. The sets were mixed but they weren’t all getting out to the antenna, but she was taking advantage of them and she’s a smart hitter.”
Mady noted that she and her teammates weren’t ready to lose the first game and came together late to erase the five-point deficit.
“We were in that zone where we knew we couldn’t give up,” she said. “We couldn’t let that ball hit the floor, we needed to put our whole heart into this game and the girls on the court really got together and we had a great connection.”
Back-to-back kills from Kellogg and Aliyah Pries would then seal game one for the Eagles to clinch a 28-26 win.
Mady registered 16 kills, seven digs and three aces and Kellogg accounted for 14 kills, 18 digs and two aces to help lead the way for Plymouth Christian, while Jessica Paulson tallied 37 assists and 14 digs and Divna Roi had 30 digs as well for the Eagles.
After Plymouth Christian dominated the second game of the night, winning 25-13, Lansing Christian jumped out to an early lead in game three and eventually saw its lead increase to 18-13, after kills from Porter, Meunier and Taylor Esch.
But once again, Plymouth Christian wouldn’t go quietly as the Eagles put together a quick 6-3 run to cut the deficit down to 21-19 after back-to-back points from Melissa Paige Perkey and Mady.
The Pilgrims would later hold a 24-22 lead after an ace from Porter and a kill from Pries, but Plymouth Christian responded with a block by Perkey and an ace by Mady to knot the third game up at 24-24.
A kill from Kellogg would then give Plymouth Christian a 26-25 and an error would then clinch the game three win and the sweep.
Kellogg said that even though the Eagles fell behind again in game three, they continued playing with energy and weren’t ready to allow the match to go to a fourth game.
“We just couldn’t give up,” she said. “We just had to keep playing as a team and not get down and play with energy no matter what we did.”
DJ Kellogg said that he was impressed to see his young Plymouth Christian team keep its composure throughout the match, despite the Eagles falling behind multiple times on Thursday night, and it showed just how focused they were.
“It amazes me,” he said. “The things we talked about and really focused on early in the season was team chemistry and details. We worked on all of the little details and if we do the little details, the end result will come. That’s where some of the not feeling that you’re down and being able to fight back is just to take it one point at a time and pay attention to the details at that point and they picked that up and they really know how to push.”
Plymouth Christian now advances to the Class D quarterfinals where the Eagles will face Marine City Cardinal Mooney.