Grand Haven wore purple uniforms as part of the Purple Out night. They sold T-shirts and did other fundraisers to help support cancer research and awareness.
“My grandma is a survivor of breast cancer,” Cole said. “As a team, this makes us realize how fortunate we are. This gave us something to play for.”
Grand Haven senior Kristen Reenders, who has committed to play college volleyball at Central Michigan next year, said she wasn’t representing anyone specific with her purple uniform.
“It’s just for the cause,” she said. “This meant a lot to all of us. There are a lot of relatives, family and friends we played for.”
On the court, the Buccaneers weren’t especially sharp.
“We kind of lacked some energy, but we didn’t ever have a doubt that we would pull through,” Reenders said. “We played well, but there are some things we need to work on.”
In each of the first two games, Grand Haven built early leads, but could never pull away from Hudsonville.
“Our tempo needed to be a little faster,” Cole said. “They were a very scrappy team. We needed to come together as a team to beat them.”
In Game 3, Hudsonville built a quick 6-2 lead and maintained its advantage until Cole’s kill tied the match at 12-all. Another Cole kill put Grand Haven on top 13-12, and the Bucs slowly pulled away. Hudsonville hung close, trailing just 24-22 late in the game, but Alex Law’s cross-court kill finished off the Eagles and pushed the Bucs to 2-0 in O-K Red play.
Bucs’ coach Katy Walters said Hudsonville did everything it could to neutralize Cole.
“Abby’s a game-changer,” Walters said. “They tried to serve us deep so our passing as off, and that took us away from our middle. They’re very scrappy, and they played well on defense. They got a few blocks, and that got into our heads and we started tipping.”
Reenders finished with four aces and 12 digs for the Bucs.
Krysteena Davis had nine kills an two blocks, while Chloe Dault fnished with 19 digs. Megan Newhouse had 12 digs, Jami Hogeboom had 23 assists, and Hannah Wilkerson added eight assists.
Walters said her team’s season has been a wild ride over the first month of the season.
“It’s definitely a roller coaster,” she said. “Our success really hinges on our energy. When we were at Jenison, we pushed the tempo, and when we do that, we match up with anybody.
“One of the girls’ goals is to play with some swagger. We’re much better when we have that swagger, that confidence.”
The Bucs’ swagger has carried them to a 19-6 start to the season.
Grand Haven played in front of a big crowd which included one of Cole’s future coaches — University of Michigan assistant Erin Virtue.
Cole said she’s grown accustomed to seeing college coaches in the stands, especially when competing at the club level.
Committing to Michigan before her junior season was a big weight lifted off her young shoulders.
“Her recruiting just blew up, and Abby felt a lot of pressure,” Walters said. “She’s one of those players, when she’s playing well, we’re playing well.”
Junior Varsity: Grand Haven downed Hudsonville, 25-19, 26-24. Amy Kober, Bailey TeBeau, Paige VanOordt and Veronica Booth each had five assists. Rachel VanZytveld had 15 digs, while Rachel Sedgewick added 11 points and Jenny VanTol finished with 22 digs.
Freshmen: Grand Haven suffered a three-set loss to Hudsonville, 27-25, 22-25, 15-8. Autumn Monsma had four kills, two blocks and three aces for the Bucs. Katja Mestrom added three kills, an ace and six digs, while Meagan Burke finished with three kills, three aces and four digs. Halley Gorajec added nine assists and five digs for the Bucs.