2017-11-09 / Sports

Fleming, Rogers City stun Leland in regional semis

By Jay Bushen
Sports Editor

ROGERS CITY junior Taylor Fleming (4) prepares to spike a ball over the net in Bellaire on Tuesday in a regional final matchup with Leland.ROGERS CITY junior Taylor Fleming (4) prepares to spike a ball over the net in Bellaire on Tuesday in a regional final matchup with Leland.

For the first time since 2010, the Leland volleyball team will not compete for a regional title.

Senior leader Rowan Wilson and the No. 2 Comets went down swinging in the regional semifinals in Bellaire on Tuesday, falling in five sets to No. 8 Rogers City (25-23, 21-25, 25-17, 23-25, 15-12).

“You come in and hope you can give them a good game,” Rogers City coach Jackie Quaine said. “That was my thought. I just wanted to show them what we can do, and I am just so proud of these girls for believing.”

It took an outstanding individual effort to get the win.

Junior hitter Taylor Fleming hammered balls with big swing after big swing, racking up a game-high 25 kills. Fleming added 24 digs and was also a difference-maker at the service line.

“She’s a beast,” Quaine said. “When she puts her mind to it, it’s hard to stop her. She’s so strong. She gets up there on the blocks and, this year, she’s really come on in the back row.”

Rogers City also had a big game from Kayla Rabeau, who finished with 20 kills and 18 digs.

Wilson countered with 23 kills and 22 digs to lead the Lady Comets, who finish 40-11-2.

“Rowan Wilson has been an emotional leader for us,” coach Laurie Glass said of Leland’s lone four-year player. “She’s got the most energy of anybody on the floor. She leads our huddle. She motivates the people around her and is really willing to put our team on her shoulders. Tonight she had four or five roll shots to keep us in the match. She will be sorely missed.”

Uncharacteristic miscues in serve receive plagued the Comets early, but the Rogers City attack was nothing short of relentless from the get-go.

Glass was impressed.

“You’ve got to hand it to Rogers City,” she said. “They took big swings in big moments and kept us on our heels when we needed to score points. I think they thought they had us down in three, but we didn’t quit. I love everything about that fight in (our team). I’m super proud of our season and what we accomplished and have no regrets about the effort we put out on the court today.”

Allie Martin tallied 13 kills and 26 digs in the loss; Ella Siddall finished with 54 assists. Maddy Grosvenor added six kills, 15 digs and five blocks.

Leland had advanced to the Class D quarterfinals or beyond in every season since 2010. The team made it to the quarterfinals in 2011 and 2012, the semifinals in 2013 and 2016 and the finals in 2014 and 2015. The team captured one state title in that span, sweeping Battle Creek St. Phillip in 2015.

Fleming said the Hurons had their sights set on Leland, a fixture at the No. 2 spot in the MIVCA poll all year.

“We’ve been practicing to play them the whole season,” Fleming said. “We really wanted it.”

The Hurons will look to punch their ticket to the state quarterfinals tonight in the regional final against Bellaire.

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