State semifinals notes: Bucs' depth was a strength 'til the end

Matt DeYoung • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:49 AM

Winning 33 of their last 34 games, many of them in convincing fashion, the Bucs haven't needed to show off that depth much over the course of their state tournament run.

But on Friday, with their season on the line in the Class A state semifinals at Kellogg Arena, Smaka turned to several backups, and was rewarded with outstanding efforts.

Veronica Booth, Paige Vanoordt and Amy Kober in particular came in and made big plays for the Bucs in Games 3 and 4, as Grand Haven tried furiously to battle back from an early two games to none deficit.

Booth and Vanoordt, both juniors, came in and served tough in critical situations for their team.

In addition, they were rock solid on defense, as Vanoordt finished with eight digs and Booth added five.

But the best defensive play came from Kober, a sophomore. Late in Game 4, with the Bucs in desperate comeback mode, Kober made a diving save, leading to a point for the Bucs. That point made it 16-22 Bedford and sparked the Bucs' comeback that saw them win seven of the next nine points.

"I've said all year that we have a really deep team, and I kept telling the kids, you never now when you might be needed," Smaka said. "They came in and made great contributions. They served well, played great defense, and gave us a spark.

"I couldn't ask for any more out of those girls, who they came in and played in the state semifinal match after really having not played very much lately because we haven't needed them."


The opening round of the state tournament — the districts — seems like a long time ago now, but it was in that setting that the Buccaneers jump-started their trip to Friday's state semifinals.

The Bucs weren't clearcut favorites to win their district tournament. They faced a tough Mona Shores team in the final that had beaten Grand Haven earlier in the year.

The Buccaneers, however, dominated that match, which served as a springboard into their record-setting run.

"I told the kids, they need to hold their heads high," coach Aaron Smaka said. "I'm very proud of what they accomplished. They've gone somewhere no team in this program has gone.

"To win that regional in front of our home crowd is something they'll remember forever, and the quarterfinal win, that took our program to a whole new level. It's all through hard work, attitude and effort, and I'm proud of where they took us."

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