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Battle on the Boardwalk set to showcase community, local talent

Josh VanDyke • Updated Aug 24, 2017 at 4:41 AM

Friday afternoon’s Battle on the Boardwalk in downtown Grand Haven will feature four successful volleyball programs that are each trying to build some positive momentum toward the postseason.

Grand Haven (8-3) is coming off a 3-2 performance at their home invitational on Tuesday, and head coach Aaron Smaka has seen plenty of highlights to know that the team is capable of much more.

“For us, it comes down to how well we’re passing the ball,” he said. “We can hang with just about anybody when we are passing well, but we didn’t do that often enough Tuesday. We didn’t play well on a consistent basis, and sometimes we played too tight and didn’t execute well in close matches.

“We are a younger team, so we have to take care of ball. We don’t have the experience to overcome a lot of miscues. We are changing lineups a lot, because we want to see what we have in each kid and these kids have an opportunity to show us what they can do.”

While the event showcases the community more than the volleyball matches, Smaka said there are plenty of lessons to be learned from the unique outdoor setting at Waterfront Stadium.

“Our kids work the middle school camp Thursday, and do a lot of things leading up to the varsity tournament,” he said. “It also benefits the kids that they are being put in a position that they aren’t comfortable with, and they have to adapt and change to the environment around them against some quality volleyball squads.

“It’s not a lot different than going into an opposing team’s gym and fighting through the different settings that they’ll see during our conference season or in the postseason. I think Friday is going to be a beautiful day, and it should be a day full of quality volleyball. Mona Shores is much better this year, and Spring Lake and Fruitport are much improved, too.”

Spring Lake is riding a wave of momentum into Friday’s showdown, after finishing 6-0 at the NorthPointe Christian Invitational on Tuesday. The six wins helped push long-time Spring Lake volleyball coach Sarah Bulthuis past the 700-win milestone in her career with the Lakers, and the team will hope to add a few more W's to her name on Friday.

Fruitport won the Traverse City Invitational last weekend and will bring back some key components from their 2016 district championship team. The Trojans lost some size from last year’s senior class, but returns a lot of athleticism and experience at key positions that should make the squad a dangerous team by November.

Mona Shores won the Reeths-Puffer Invitational last weekend, but finished third at Tuesday’s invitational at Grand Haven High School. The Sailors defeated the Buccaneers in head-to-head play (23-25, 25-20 and 16-14).

If that match is any indication, Friday’s matches might come down to the wire.

NOTES: Registration for the 5K fun run tonight will be available for anyone who comes to the event at Waterfront Stadium. For information on the fun run, contact susantater@hotmail.com. For information on the Adult 4’s tournament, contact coachsmaka@gmail.com.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

TODAY

Free Seventh-Grade Camp (1-2:30 p.m.)

Free Eighth-Grade Camp (2:30-4 p.m.)

Adult 4’s Tournament (5 p.m. start) 
5K Fun Run (6:30 p.m. start)

FRIDAY

Yoga on the Boardwalk (9 a.m.)

FRESHMEN MATCHES

11 a.m.

Grand Haven vs. Fruitport (Court 1)

Spring Lake vs. Mona Shores (Court 2)

12 p.m.

Grand Haven vs. Spring Lake (Court 1)

Fruitport vs. Mona Shores (Court 2)

JUNIOR VARSITY MATCHES

1:30 p.m.

Grand Haven vs. Fruitport (Court 1)

Spring Lake vs. Mona Shores (Court 2)

2:30 p.m.

Grand Haven vs. Spring Lake (Court 1)

Fruitport vs. Mona Shores (Court 2)

VARSITY MATCHES

4 p.m.

Grand Haven vs. Mona Shores (Court 1)

Spring Lake vs. Fruitport (Court 2)

5 p.m.

Grand Haven vs. Fruitport (Court 1)

Spring Lake vs. Mona Shores (Court 2)

6 p.m.

Grand Haven vs. Spring Lake (Court 1)

Fruitport vs. Mona Shores (Court 2)

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