BATTLE CREEK — There has been a theme that the volleyball players at Leland have repeated again and again throughout the season.
"Dig or Die," senior Hanna Elwell exclaimed after No. 1 Leland's 3-0 sweep of No. 9 Carney-Nadeau in the Division 4 state semifinal at Kellogg Arena on Friday.
That mentality is what all the teams that made the trip to Battle Creek should have, but the Comets have taken it to a different level.
The Comets defense brought the fire to their match against the Wolves and the "Dig or Die" mentality was in full effect.
Leland combined for 52 digs while allowing only 24 points to be scored on kills by the Wolves, the other 27 were made on Leland errors. Leland won in straight sets –– 25-21, 25-14, 25-16 –– to move on to the state championship game against No. 2 Mendon on Saturday.
"We switched our defense a lot this year in the season because Ella Siddall is a great defensive player and we wanted her in the mix," head coach Laurie Glass said. "It has allowed us to make some alterations in matches so today we did it a little differently than on Tuesday."
The Comets may be switching up their defensive approach but their offense has remained the same –– lethal.
Leland was led by Elwell with 17 kills. The big stage seemed to bring out the best in the outside hitter and she ran with it.
"I think I felt more calm today than I have in any of the other postseason games," Elwell said. "I was really excited coming in and I had some nerves but that all went away as soon as the first ball went over. I just got kind of wrapped into the game and had a lot of fun."
The Wolves defense had moments that they were able to stop Elwell and the Leland attack, but the power and frequency of the Comets hits were too overwhelming.
Leland and the Wolves were neck-and-neck through the first set but the Comets pulled away after the score was tied 21-21. The Comets started the final two sets on runs, putting the Wolves down big early and coasting to the state championship game.
Allie Martin totaled eight kills and Tatum Kareck seven. Ella Siddall planted five aces to go along with her 34 assists and seven digs, Mia Osorio had 14 digs and three aces and Gillian Grobbel had three blocks with her two kills.
The Comets have yet to drop a set during their six game postseason run but they feel no pressure to keep that streak alive, they are just worried about winning one more set than Mendon on Saturday.
"We have our hands full," Glass said. "Mendon is great team and they've got some big bangers. We like to dig big bangers so we look forward to that."
The Comets will need to bring the same mentality on Saturday as they have all season if they want to win the sixth state title in program history.
This is the first trip to the state title game for the Comets since 2015 when they defeated Battle Creek St. Philip. There are several seniors on this year's team that won it all in 2015 and they hope to fall back on that experience against a dangerous Mendon team.
It also helps when you have a coach that has been in this situation both as a player and a coach and Glass knows how to prepare her athletes for this stage. She keeps the Comets in the same routine as the first game of the season and said nothing about the Comet's preparation will be different than the rest of this season.
"At this point in time, you feel like every team you play is the next best team in the state so we prepare the same," Glass said. "We will prepare for tomorrow the same way we have for other opponents. We figure that everybody has a reason to get to this point and Mendon is just one more person between us and the goal we are looking to achieve."
The Comets (47-10-1) will face off with Mendon (48-6-3) at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Kellogg Arena with hopes to bring another state title back to Leland this fall.