Mendon can’t sustain early momentum, falls in quarterfinals

Lady Hornets finish 42-9-6

MENDON — The anticipated battle between top-ranked Plymouth Christian and Mendon’s No. 2-ranked volleyball team lived up to its hype in Tuesday’s Class D state quarterfinals at Climax-Scotts.
In the end Plymouth Christian proved itself worthy of its No. 1-ranking with a 20-25, 25-16, 26-24, 25-21 win over Mendon before a capacity crowd.
“Both teams put a lot of pressure on each other and each side had some critical runs in the match,” said Mendon coach Bill Trenary, whose Lady Hornets (42-9-6) lost in the state quarterfinals for the third consecutive year.
“The biggest difference I saw tonight was that Plymouth Christian had fewer weak rotations than us. I’m not taking anything away from our kids, but they just have a lot of athletes. They don’t run out of firepower in their serving rotation and serve-receive plus they defend very well.”
Plymouth Christian, a state semifinalist last season, advances to Friday’s 3:45 p.m. semifinal against defending state champion Leland at Battle Creek’s Kellogg Arena. The other semifinal at 2 p.m. pits Rogers City against Auburn Hills Oakland Christian. The finals are at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Trenary had film on Plymouth Christian (30-10-3) from five different matches this season, but he admitted this was the best the Eagles had played all year.
“Their serving game was a strength for them and it allowed them to take away our serve-receive which has been our biggest strength all season,” Trenary said.
Mendon didn’t have its best effort from the service line missing nine serves with only three aces.
The match was the final one for Mendon’s starting senior trio of Megann Leighton (middle hitter), Cassie Plummer (setter) and Kaley Smith (libero) along with classmates Alyssa Kramer (hitter) and Nancy Steinacker (defensive specialist).
“I told the girls after the match that I feel like I won the player lottery. To have a hitter, setter, libero of their quality along with two passers and a blocker is amazing at a Class D school,” Trenary said.
Leighton finished with 21 kills and eight digs. Plummer had 32 assists, six digs, one ace and one block. Smith posted 20 digs and one ace. Amaijha Bailey tossed in 12 digs. Abby Miller finished with nine digs. Hannah Duchene had two aces, nine kills and four blocks. Aubrey Crotser had one ace. Cierra Nightingale added one kill and a block. Kramer had one block.
Leighton’s best game came in the opening set when the all-stater totaled eight kills.
Mendon led by as many as five points (17-12) after Leighton recorded a kill that ended a lengthy point.
Duchene also added four kills and assisted with Plummer on a block during the game.
Another Leighton kill gave Mendon its largest lead of the opening game at 23-16. The Lady Hornets got a kill from Leighton and took advantage of a failed kill attempt by Plymouth Christian’s Olivia Mady to close out the game.
Mendon dug itself a 10-4 deficit to start game two. The Lady Hornets eventually pulled within three points on two occasions, once on a tip by Leighton (13-16) and (14-17) after Grace Kellogg’s kill for Plymouth Christian sailed wide.
The Eagles would go on and build their lead to eight (24-16) on Jessica Paulson’s block. Mady’s kill for the Eagles ended the game and tied the match up at 1-1.
Game three was tied 11 different times before Plymouth Christian scored the final two points off Grace Kellogg’s serve which included an ace.

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