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Grand Haven volleyball team cruises past Muskegon, advances to district finals

Tribune Staff • Nov 1, 2017 at 8:32 PM

The Grand Haven volleyball team surged past the Muskegon Big Reds on Wednesday in the Class A district semifinals at Grand Rapids Northview High School.

The Buccaneers won convincingly in straight sets, 25-9, 25-9 and 25-7 to advance to Thursday’s district finals at 7 p.m.

Grand Haven will meet the Mona Shores Sailors for a chance at their 11th straight district championship.

Against the Big Reds, Grand Haven used a balanced attack and a deep bench to power past the opposition for the win.

Ashley Slater, Rachel Hillburger, Mackenzie Gross and Sarah Knoll each recorded five kills to lead the Buccaneers’ attack, while Avolyn Lepo and Lauren Jonker each added four kills.

Ashlyn Hall added 19 assists; Samantha Boove had 11 assists and Avery Strohmeyer had three aces.

“It was a good win with a lot of kids getting a lot of playing time,” said Grand Haven head coach Aaron Smaka. “Both setters passed the ball well and everyone contributed in one way or another. I was happy to see us spread the ball around and attack from different positions.

“Now, we have to get mentally ready for tomorrow night.”

Grand Haven will get a chance at redemption after dropping both matches to the Sailors back in August. However, Smaka believes both teams have changed a lot since those early season contests.

“It’s difficult to draw much from those matches because one was at the Battle on the Boardwalk. So, we’ve only seen them once indoors, but that was back in August, so I’m sure both teams are a lot different.

“Their middle attacks well, and they are aggressive on the outside. The first contact is going to be important and running the middle is always a big deal in a match like this. If we pass well, we should put ourselves in a good position.

“We have to defend their outside attack. We have sometimes struggled with that, but we’ve been working on it a lot at practice, and we’ve really seen a ton of improvement across the board in the last few weeks.”

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