Leland Takes Title as St. Phil Streak Ends

November 21, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

BATTLE CREEK – A championship trophy wrapped in her arms Saturday, minutes after one of the most memorable wins in recent MHSAA Volleyball Tournament history, Leland senior Maddie Trumbull said she would remember those post-match moments for the rest of her life.

And she’ll surely recall from time to time what it took over the last two years for her Comets to end the longest volleyball championship streak in MHSAA history.

A year after falling in the Final that would give Battle Creek St. Philip its record ninth-straight Class D title, Leland ended the Tigers’ dominance one win short of a decade with a 3-0 sweep – 25-20, 25-23, 25-23 – at Battle Creek's Kellogg Arena.

It probably wasn’t the mix expected to take down mighty St. Philip, whose championship streak also was tied for 10th longest in national girls volleyball history. Surrounding Trumbull on the Kellogg Arena floor were a mix of seniors and juniors, but also a sophomore and two freshmen.

But from the first point Saturday morning, the Comets got a feeling they could be champions by the afternoon for the first time since 2006 – the last season before the Tigers’ streak began.

“Being in the final four and losing in the state final last year gave us motivation right off the bat,” said Trumbull, who also was a top hitter for teams that made it to Battle Creek in 2014 and 2013. “We started thinking last year, let’s make it to the state finals (again). Let’s beat them. Let’s beat their streak. We’ve been working since day one; that was our goal, and we met our goal.”

The championship was the fifth for Leland (49-7-4) to go with six runner-up finishes. The sweep was the Comets’ six of this tournament; total, they won 24 sets and gave up only two over the last three weeks.

But the success wasn’t without some adjustments – even between Thursday’s Semifinal win over Crystal Falls Forest Park and Saturday morning’s start.

Leland, which came into the postseason ranked No. 3, didn’t pass well enough against the Trojans to employ all of its offensive options. But they cleaned up the passing for St. Philip, and four players had at least five kills, let by Trumbull’s 14 and six more apiece by freshman Allie Martin and senior ViAnna Hennig.

Freshman setter Ella Siddall found her groove leading the attack, and also had four of the team’s eight aces.

Martin and Siddall were team managers for the Comets for two seasons before joining the varsity as players this fall. Both impressed longtime coach Laurie Glass again Saturday – Siddall for making the necessary adjustments to set a great match, and Martin for continuing to play "fearlessly."

“They had been in the gym. We felt there were lots of good things to come,” said Glass, who completed her 21st season leading the program. “Did I think we could win a state championship with two freshmen? I sure was hoping we would.”

The Tigers did all they could to rally at various points throughout the Final, be it during Vicky Groat’s timeouts during Leland runs or senior Abby McKinzie’s rallying of her teammates throughout.

The four-year St. Phil standout finished with 14 kills and 17 digs, but the Tigers never could get completely out in front. Siddall ended the two-point second-set win with an ace. Trumbull decided the two-point third-set win with a kill.

St. Philip, No. 2 entering the tournament, finished 46-17-2 after defeating top-ranked Plymouth Christian in its Semifinal. The Tigers won the title in 2014 after also entering the playoffs ranked lower than No. 1 – and Groat said the inevitable end of the streak was always in the back of her mind, going back to St. Phil’s first repeat attempt nearly a decade a go.

“You never know. You can’t take it for granted. And every team is different,” Groat said “I’m thinking back the other day to the first team that started this; they’re married and have kids. They’re all different girls. They’re all different individuals, and they all just come together as a team.

“The streak is going to end some time. ... There's no shame in losing for the championship. I think of all the teams, I’ve had the most fun with this group of girls. And I feel bad for that, that I'm going to miss that group. Abby feels bad like she let me down. Nobody let me down. If anything, I let you guys down because I didn’t win it for you. I would never feel that they let me down, ever.” 

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Leland players hoist the school’s first volleyball championship trophy since 2006. (Middle) St. Philip’s Morgan Luoma dives during a dig attempt; she finished with a team-high 20 digs.

JoBurg 3-Sport Great Capping Career Filled with All-State Honors, Team Trophies

By Tom Spencer
Special for MHSAA.com

April 5, 2024

It won’t be hard for Jayden Marlatt to remember opening day on the softball field from any of her four years at Johannesburg-Lewiston.

Northern Lower PeninsulaAs a freshman, she missed the opener due to needing to quarantine. Her sophomore and junior years started on the road because the Cardinals’ field was under construction.  

This season the Cardinals will open up — weather permitting — on their brand-new field, hosting Mio on Monday, April 8.  Marlatt is slated to be the starting pitcher again and add to her school record collection.

While Johannesburg-Lewiston is looking forward to playing on the new diamond, Marlatt and her teammates have high hopes of finishing the season almost 200 miles south. They’re looking to get back to Michigan State University – the site of the Division 4 Semifinals and Final.

The Cards have had their sites on that goal since they fell 4-2 to Mendon in last year’s Semifinal at Secchia Stadium. The loss ended a 30-4-1 campaign that saw the Cardinals play every game on the road for a second consecutive year, but come up only one victory short of a first championship game appearance.

The trip to East Lansing also came after the Cards won the program’s first District title since 2008 and advanced to the Semifinals for the first time since 1981.

“It has been a long two seasons on the road,” said eighth-year head coach Kim Marlatt, noting the team utilized a Little League field for practices during the stretch. “They’ve been putting in a lot of work in the offseason, so it is excited to get going.”

Cardinals’ 1,000-point scorer Marlatt sets up for a free throw attempt. The new field isn’t the only new things this spring. The Cardinals will have a junior varsity team for the first time during the Marlatt’s tenure. The JV squad is coached by Ryan Marlatt, who has been serving the program the past eight years as assistant coach. He also has been the head girls basketball coach at JoBurg the past two seasons.

The Marlatt coaches are the proud parents of Jayden, who continues to garner recognition as perhaps the greatest athlete in Johannesburg-Lewiston’s history. 

The three-sport star had a huge hand in all that JoBurg accomplished last season leading the team in batting average (.670), home runs (13) and runs batted in (61). As the team’s ace pitcher, she collected 249 strikeouts and compiled a 1.32 ERA.

“Jayden has put in the hard work,” Kim pointed out.  “She is a very humble athlete. ‘She doesn’t like to talk about herself. She likes to compete, and she likes to be on the top of her game for her teammates.”

Jayden has been named all-conference and all-state in softball, basketball and volleyball nearly every season over her four years at JoBurg. She’s led her teams to Ski Valley Conference, District and Regional titles along the way.

She’s also been named Player of the Year by multiple publications. And she’s a front runner to be voted the Most Valuable Player of the Ski Valley Conference in softball. Earlier this year, league coaches voted her the MVP for both basketball and volleyball.  

“The Ski Valley never used to vote on an MVP,” Ryan Marlatt said. “Hopefully she can add the triple crown and get softball this year.”

Jayden Marlatt, who has played all three sports all four years, acknowledged softball is perhaps her most treasured, and she’ll continue in that sport at Ferris State. Her career total of more than 500 strikeouts, and her 14 home runs last season, are both JoBurg school records. "I like them all but probably softball,” she confirmed when asked to name her favorite sport.

She averaged 12 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and four steals per game this winter helping the Cards basketball team to a conference runner-up finish. She was key to JoBurg's ability to put a 12-game winning streak together, and she topped the 1,000-point career mark along the way.

Also a standout in the fall, Marlatt prepares to connect during volleyball season.Her outstanding senior year on the basketball court and this spring’s possibilities nearly vanished as the volleyball season ended.

She suffered what looked to be a serious lower-leg injury in the final game of the JoBurg volleyball season. “She finished in the emergency room,” Kim Marlatt said.  

Diagnosed a high ankle sprain, it was an aggravation to an injury from her junior year in basketball. She wasn’t quite at 100 percent on the basketball court this season until the holiday break. She’s starting the softball season healthy, though.

Before the injury, Jayden led the Cards to their third volleyball conference championship over the last four years. After becoming JoBurg's all-time kills leader during her junior season, and with many of her teammates from her first three seasons graduating, Jayden had to fill a variety of roles while anchoring the offense from her outside hitter spot.

She ended up leading the team in both kills with 421 and digs, with 431, in her final season on the volleyball court. And she is listed among MHSAA’s all-time leaders in kills for a single match and career.

It’s more than Marlatt’s stats that stand out for Kristine Peppin, the school’s volleyball coach the past 15 years.

“It is not about the size of the school or the size of the player, it’s the heart that they have inside,” she proclaimed. “This girl would be a successful player on whatever team she was on. 

“Yes we’re a small school, small town,” she continued. “That kind of leadership and heart and drive to be the best is what’s given her that success.”

Marlatt’s work ethic is second to none, Peppin noted. She never saw Jayden give less than a “1,000” percent in practice or games in her career. 

Marlatt celebrates a trophy win during last season’s Semifinals softball run with parents (and coaches) Kim and Ryan Marlatt.“She’s a super hard worker and extremely modest for the kind of skill she possesses and the success she’s had,” Peppin said. “Her teammates think it’s amazing to be on her team.”

Marlatt’s volleyball skills caught the eye of at least one of her conference opponents’ coaches back in junior high. Ron Stremlow was performing one of his many coaching duties for Fife Lake Forest Area when he first saw Jayden on the volleyball court.

“I could tell then this girl was somebody special,” said Stremlow, who became one of the winningest coaches in state volleyball history with the Warriors. “When she got in high school, it just took off.

“She puts the time into it, and she works hard,” Stremlow continued. “Kids like that get what they deserve – they work for it.”

Stremlow, now retired, also acknowledged he’s enjoyed being able to watch the hard-throwing Marlatt on the softball field the last couple of seasons as Forest Area hosted the Cardinals consecutively due to JoBurg’s lack of a home field.

It’s something he’ll have to travel to do this year though, as JoBurg is scheduled to host the Warriors on April 15.

The Cardinals also will host a Regional on their new field June 8. The winners of District play at Rogers City, Harbor Springs, St. Ignace and Gaylord St. Mary will participate.

To play in the Regional, the Cards will have to emerge from the Rogers City District featuring the host Hurons, Atlanta, Hillman, Onaway, and Posen.

Tom SpencerTom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Johannesburg-Lewiston’s Jayden Marlatt drives a pitch during softball season. (2) Cardinals’ 1,000-point scorer Marlatt sets up for a free throw attempt. (3) Also a standout in the fall, Marlatt prepares to connect during volleyball season. (4) Marlatt celebrates a trophy win during last season’s Semifinals softball run with parents (and coaches) Kim and Ryan Marlatt. (Action shots by Dylan Jespersen/Petoskey News-Review; family photo by Breya Domke.)