Plymouth Christian wins second straight Class D title in straights sets; Bronson wins C title over Laingsburg, 3-1
Battle Creek – Plymouth Christian is a repeat offender.
After winning its first Class D championship in 2016, the Eagles ran the tables as the top-ranked team the whole season and culminated the campaign with a 3-0 victory on Saturday over sixth-ranked Fowler at Battle Creek’s Kellogg Arena.
Plymouth Christian, which also finished as the state runner-up in 2010, took down first-time finalist Fowler, 25-18, 25-23, 25-21. Not bad for a program that graduated over half of its roster.
“It was kind of fun this year. As I said (earlier in the week) that I didn’t know what to expect this year after losing eight players to graduation from last year,” said Plymouth Christian coach DJ Kellogg. “This was a new team to play with this year. But after tryouts I thought we had a good chance to do great things again. It was just a matter of them responding.”
Plymouth Christian played with pressure all season and ended up on top on the most important day.
“I kind of take rankings with a grain of salt,” added Kellogg. “A sixth-ranked Fowler was here — they played great defense. No. 2 Leland gets knocked out by Rogers City earlier in the week. Even in Class A you saw a number of upsets.”
Plymouth Christian (45-8-3) was paced by Grace Kellogg, who finished 41-for-43 attacking with 15 kills and 17 digs. Gabriella Kellogg had 15 kills and 18 digs, Abigail Pray contributed 31 assists, Eliese Miera slammed seven kills and Madison Raymond added 13 digs for the Eagles.
Grace Kellogg’s tip-kill to end Game 2 provided a huge spark for Plymouth Christian, as Fowler had put together a large rally to trim the score to 24-23.
Fowler (38-12-5) had recorded only 12 wins last season and registered several victories over state-ranked Class C and Class D schools this season, including No. 3 North Adams-Jerome in the regional finals and honorable mentions Southfield Christian (quarterfinals) and Munising (state semifinals). The Eagles could dig up no such luck against top-ranked Plymouth Christian.
Kennedy Koenigsknecht finished with 25 assists, Marissa Snyder added 11 kills and 11 digs, Sidney Horak had 23 digs and seven kills and Maddie Veale followed with 16 digs for Fowler.
“The goal was to get here, but just getting here is not what we wanted. We wanted to win it,” said Fowler coach Patty Feldpausch. “This was a great year. Our girls were fighters as I think everyone saw. We got down all three games and we just kept coming back. We’re like a mosquito that just doesn’t go away. We just wouldn’t give up. Plymouth Christian’s serving was just too tough for us today. They had us on our heals a little bit.”
Bronson overcomes Laingsburg’s scare to win third straight state crown
Bronson received quite a scare Saturday at Kellogg Arena.
The top-ranked Vikings escaped danger of a potential giant killer in honorable mention Laingsburg, rallying for a 3-1 triumph in the Class C final at Kellogg Arena.
After falling behind with a 25-20 setback in Game 1, Bronson persevered to win the final three sets, 25-19, 25-20, 25-19 to earn its third straight Class C title.
“I don’t think we made any adjustments, I think we just tried to focus on what we needed to,” admitted Bronson coach Jean LaClair of her team’s 1-0 deficit. “I thought it was a pretty gutsy performance. We had Keona (Salesman) hurt her thumb and I asked ‘do you want to play?’ But all of the girls stepped up after that point.”
“We decided to play,” noted setter Kiana Mayer of the eye-opening deficit. “At the point, we knew we had to step up.”
Salesman slammed 19 kills and recorded 11 digs for the Vikings. Jolie Smoker added 12 kills, Kiera Lasky had 21 digs, Kiana Mayer followed with 37 assists and Ashton Wronikowski added 11 kills for Bronson, which won its fourth title in the past decade.
“It’s hard being the No. 1 in the state. People are always wan tinting to play their best. i think we were No. 1 the whole season. That’s tough,” said LaClair.
Alex Randall had 16 kills and 10 digs to lead Laingsburg. Sophie Strife added 14 kills and 14 digs, Maya Ferland chipped in 14 kills, 11 digs and two aces and Grace Gregg contributed 40 assists for the Wolfpack (40-17-3), which make their first final appearance.
“We did a great job coming out and playing our best. That’s what we preached all season long,” said Laingsburg coach Tennille Whitmore. “I thought Bronson’s ball control was very good and we fell behind in the last three sets. We were competitive, but not enough in the end against a great program.”