Leland (43-12-4) got more than it wanted out of its match with Onaway (35-17-5) in the state Class D semifinals. Coming into the semifinal match in Battle Creek Friday afternoon, the Comets had not lost a set in the post-season tournament. Ranked number one in the state, it appeared to be rolling to an appearance with in the state championship game.
Not so fast. Onaway, which also had not lost a match in the post season, came in on a roll. They used that to take Leland to a fifth set before falling 3-2.
The Cards blasted the Comets in the first set, 25-10, leading at one point 9-2, then 15-4 before putting it away. Onaway didn’t make mistakes while Lelands attacks often went wide or long. Then Leland came back to win set two 25-18 and set three, 25-20 and looked to put the Cards away in set four.
Not so fast, again. After running off seven straight points to go up 12-7 in the fourth set, Leland looked to have momentum on its side. Enter Lexi Szymoniak. The senior co-captain, who again led her team with 16 kills in the match, notched two straight kills to stop the run. Senior Elise Arkwood, who had 14 kills on the day, tipped a winner home for the 14 th point and setter Taylor Ehrke nailed a ace serve to cut the lead to 16-15.
Ashley LaLonde, a senior co-captain, got hot at the service line, scoring two aces in a four point run as the Cards took the lead at 21-19. A serve into the net made it 21-20, before Morganne Badgero smacked a kill from the middle and Arkwood nailed a shot from the outside. A missed attack by Leland gave the Cards set point before Arkwood drove home the winning kill.
But an upset would not come to pass on this cold night in Battle Creek. Leland’s Erica Ongaro used a nasty left-handed serve to run off 15 straight points in the deciding set, a 15-0 loss for the Cards.
“We had a good season, won our conference for the third year in a row and made it down to Battle Creek for the second time in three years. We competed out there really hard. I don’t think too many matches go five sets when you get down to the final four,” said coach Steve Watson.
Statistically, Ehrke had 37 assists, 12 digs and five aces. Arkwood had 15 digs along with her 14 kills on 22 attacks (.545). Szymoniak added 21 digs to her 16 kills on 64 attacks (.156). Alison Lafave had 7 kills on 18 attacks (.167) with three digs and an assist. LaLonde had two aces serves, three assists and four digs. Jade Galer had 14 digs and an ace serve.
For Leland, Maddie Trumbull had 21 kills on 57 attacks (.263); Jessica Fleis had 43 assists and eight digs while Erica Ongara had nine aces.
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