Wednesday was a sunny day at the Battle on the Boardwalk, an outdoor girls high school volleyball tournament along the Grand River in Grand Haven, but the sun shone on no team brighter than the Buccaneers.
The Bucs, who are the No. 4 Class A school in the current MIVCA rankings, went undefeated in round-robin play against Spring Lake, Fruitport and Mona Shores.
Grand Haven head varsity coach Aaron Smaka said he was pleased with how his team reacted to the conditions of the day, and their schedule leading up to the event.
“These aren’t conditions we’re used to playing in. I thought our kids did a great job of handling those conditions, especially after playing Saturday and Tuesday, and having to be here last night (Tuesday) after the tournament they played, and having to be back here at 8 a.m. to work the middle school tournament,” Smaka said. “… I could not be prouder of their effort, and what they’ve put in through this week of the season.”
Smaka said that the Bucs concentrated on ball control and moving their feet more to counteract the wind; both of which are practices he hopes they will apply to rest of their games this season.
Spring Lake was 4-2 on the day, with the two losses coming at the hands of Grand Haven (25-18, 25-15).
“We got to give effort the whole time,” Spring Lake assistant coach Betsy Bulthuis said of the losses. “I really thought that they took us out of our system a lot, and our girls didn’t respond in the way that I was hoping they would. … I told them ‘Everyone’s hot, everyone’s in the sun, everyone’s feet are tired. Whoever is going to win is the one who’s going to keep their feet moving.’ We got a little bit lazy feet, and they took full advantage of it. It was a very nice job by Grand Haven.”
Bulthuis was proud of the Lakers on the day as a whole though.
“At the beginning of the season we told the girls, ‘This whole thing is going to be a process, and you have to buy in. If we ask you to do something, you have to make a change, really make an effort to make a change.’ And I thought that they did that, it was a really good showcase for us for that.”
Spring Lake won two close matches each against Mona Shores, and rival Fruitport.
“That’s a really fun, good win for us. It’s always a battle, obviously when Spring Lake plays Fruitport in anything. … The girls are really excited to walk away here with that.”
She said the Lakers put the Mona Shores players on their heels, and that they blocked well against them.
Bulthuis attributed Spring Lake’s success against Fruitport to changing with the wind.
“The wind is just a factor, and I think the team that ends up winning is the one that can make the fastest decisions and the fastest adjustments,” Bulthuis said.
Fruitport kept their first game tight with the Lakers, losing 25-22. The Trojans were leading 23-22 in game 2, but the Lakers came back, winning 25-23.
“We’re there, we’re close, Fruitport varsity head coach Nicole Bayle said. “We just have to work on that whole finishing and executing part of the game — some of it is mental, we just need some more reps.”
The Trojans also played Mona Shores tight, but they remained winless.
“We’ve got to serve and pass better,” Bayle said. “We haven’t won a game this season, which is very hard for our kids. It’s very stressful. I think it puts a little bit more pressure on them. But the bottom line is that we have to take care of the little things a lot better. We have to pass better. Our first contact really has to … become much better for us to be successful.”