PORTAGE, Mich (WLNS) – The Lansing Christian Pilgrims were in a tough Division 4 quarterfinal match against Battle Creek St. Phillip Tigers at Portage Northern high school on Tuesday night.
At the end of Monday’s pre-match practice, senior Gracie Calaway, one of the Pilgrims’ best outside hitters broke her ankle during a drill. Not having Calaway completely changed Lansing Christian’s gameplan for how to attack St. Phillip.
The first set was a back and forth battle that ended with St. Phillip’s Alexis Snyder with two big kills that would help her Tigers pull away with a 25-21 win. The second set was another close battle with huge shots down the line from Lansing Christian junior outside hitter, Annaliese Rottman, who gave the Pilgrims a commanding lead and turned the scoreboard around for their own 25-21 victory.
In the third set, Lansing Christian got a couple of close calls that were arguably in or out depending on your affiliation with each school. The Pilgrims were able to pull away to a 25-18 win as Ashely Nordmann finished off the set with a kill that went off the arms of a Tiger.
The fourth set was when things got weird. The Pilgrims were consistently called for multiple double touch penalties which gave the Tigers a commanding lead. At one point the Pilgrims looked as if they just wanted to give the set to the Tigers knowing the fifth set was going to be played. The Tigers would finish off the set with a 25-7 victory.
The fifth and final set was intense. The Pilgrims looked like they were pulling away with the victory as senior outside hitter Ashley Nordmann served an ace which gave Lansing Christian a 10-4 lead. The Tigers clawed back and went on a 10-4 run, tieing the fifth set up at 14 all. Matchpoint for the Tigers was a bump pass from Rachel Myers to Alexis Snyder for the final kill ended the fifth set 16-14 for St. Phillip.
Lansing Christian head coach, Casey Hilts, shared how proud he was of his team.
“It’s always tough to lose the season like that but the game of volleyball was played really well on both teams,” said Hilts. “I mean there wasn’t anything that we couldn’t do and we brought it and then it’s just a matter of execution and can’t say enough good things about this team. Got the heart of a champion, they compete. This was a special group and I hoped that they could have finished this but certainly don’t have anything to be ashamed of. Like I said this was a great season.”
The Pilgrims finish the season with a record of 27-6, a major improvement after consistent seasons with double-digit losses.