The Buccaneers defeated Grand Rapids Christian 21-25, 25-21, 15-13 to clinch the conference title, but dropped its final two matches to Allendale and Kalamazoo Christian to finish 7-2 on the season.
Gavin Jonker recorded 13 kills to lead the Buccaneer attack, while Mason Fritz and Logan Naperala each added four. Tucker Beland and Scott Matthews each added 11 assists.
“It was a really, really special moment,” said Grand Haven head coach Jim Vantol of the conference title. “I think it takes a minute to sink in, especially for the team, that they won the first-ever boys volleyball championship. It was very exciting. Grand Rapids Christian did a really nice job putting this thing together.
“When we won the Grand Rapids Christian match, the first of the day, that sealed the conference title and took the pressure off, so that was nice. It allowed us to play more kids and work on our new offense.
“The title is a fun surprise. I didn’t know what to expect when we started this. We progressed much quicker than I expected. These kids are all athletes. They are really good in the big moments. You can tell by their demeanor and their willingness to fight when it counts that they know how to win and are disappointed if they don’t.”
The Buccaneers will play their remaining two matches at home on May 8 and 15 at the Grand Haven Fieldhouse, with new teams joining the fray and others ready to jump in next season.
“There has been an enormous amount of interest generated already,” Vantol said. “We’ve heard from Reeths-Puffer, Portage and Mattawan. West Ottawa and Paw Paw already have teams together and are coming to our season-end tournament.
“We talked as coaches after the tournament tonight about next year and keeping things going.
“I have enjoyed it so much I would have a hard time not coming back. It seems like we started something big here.”
BUCCANEER TRACK LAPS GRANDVILLE
The Grand Haven boys and girls track teams capped off a busy week of O-K Red Conference action with a dominating performance at home against Grandville on Thursday.
The Buccaneer boys scored a 114-23 win over the Bulldogs, while the Grand Haven girls added a 106-31 win.
On the girls' side, Grand Haven captured 16 first-place finishes out of 17 events, with more than half the team setting new personal best marks.
"Grandville is rebuilding the program, but we accomplished several things that needed to be done tonight," said Grand Haven girls head coach John Tarr. "Our 3,200-meter and 800-meter runners ran great, we ran solid relays, and our sprinters took advantage of some good weather to run great times. Our field event kids had some great performances, too. I was really happy with the way our girls competed."
Jenny Ryan, McKenna Keefe and Kassidy Burnside led the way for Grand Haven. Ryan took four first-place finishes with wins in the 100 (13.3 seconds), 400 (1:02.85), and was a member of the 800 (1:47.61) and 1,600 (4:18) relays teams that won their events. Ryan teamed up with Burnside, Keefe and Kate Criswell-North in the 800 relay, and Abby Buitenhuis, Keefe and Criswell-North in the 1,600 relay.
Keefe also took firsts in the pole vault (10-3) and 200 (27.53), while Burnside added firsts in the 300 hurdles (48.8) and finished second in the 100 dash (13.51), while Criswell-North added a third-place finish (13.66) in the event for a clean sweep for the Buccaneers.
The distance runners also dominated the meet by winning the 3,200 relay (10:04.33). Buitenhuis, Emily Mattson, Meadow White and Kirbey Colella took top honors, while Mattson, Gina Maracek, White and Marlie Fraser completed a sweep in the 1,600 relay by taking second.
Maracek (5:31.7) and Colella (5:43.2) then added first- and third-place finishes in the 1,600 run.
The Bucs also swept the 800 with Buitenhuis (2:24.99), White (2:32.14) and Maracek (2:35.01) finishing one through three, followed by a sweep in the 3,200 run with Mattson (12:12.64), Jenna Ray (12:33.38) and Julia Drabcyk (12:43.22) finish one through three, all of whom recorded personal-best marks, along with fourth-place finisher Kelsie McManus (12:45.27).
In the field events, Sarah Knoll set a new personal best in the discus, winning with a throw of 109 feet and took first in the shot put (35-11). Freshman Avery Keefe took first place in the high jump with a leap of 5 feet.
"This was a great way to end the dual meet season and move into the championship season," added Tarr. "This will give us a lot of confidence heading into the O-K Red Conference Championship meet next Friday at West Ottawa."
On the boys' side, the Buccaneers won 16 of 17 events to cruise to the conference dual meet win.
Winners of individual events were: Joey Brenton in the shot put (40-9), Jack Plowman in the discus (119-2), Pierce Foster in the long jump (19-4), Mason Mahacek in the pole vault (13), Drew Dahlman in the high jump (5-10), Aidan Martin in 3,200 (10:06.35), Charlie Young in the 200 (23.55) and 400 (49.2) dashes, Jack Nicholson in the 800 (2:05.79) and 1,600 runs (4:37.76) and Collin Takas in the 300 (43.05) and 110 hurdles (16.46).
The Bucs also won all four relays on the night with 3,200 relay team of Dominic Weatherwax, Kyle Eveland, Martin and Nicholson (8:59.30), the 800 relay with Ethan Peters, Timmy Kleyla, Young and Aaron Hughes (1:34.86), the 400 relay with Foster, Peters, Alex Kaufman, and Mahacek (45.69) and 1,600 relay with Kleyla, Takas, Eveland and Hughes (3:36.10).
"We did an excellent job again tonight competing in many areas," added Grand Haven boys head coach Joe Nelson. "We were able to post some good seed times for our upcoming conference meet. Tonight gave us some ideas on how we should line up at the O-K Red meet next Friday. All our guys are working hard and making improvements."
BUCCANEER SOCCER ROUTS EK
The Grand Haven girls soccer team scored an impressive 6-1 win over East Kentwood on Thursday night in O-K Red Conference action.
East Kentwood scored first at the seven-minute mark, when a handball penalty awarded the Falcons a penalty kick from the top of the box. The visitors would score on the play and take an early 1-0 lead.
At the 17-minute mark, Alli Keyser got the equalizer when defender Olivia Striegle placed a long ball over the defensive line. Keyser ran the ball down and chipped it over the rushing keeper. At the 30-minute mark, Keyser brought the ball up the field into the left corner and sent it across the front of the net finding teammate Jennifer Dear for the goal. The Buccaneers would take a 2-1 lead into halftime and surge ahead in the second half.
Four minutes into the second half, defender Carley Wagasky found the feet of Keyser with a pass, who quickly turned the ball, shot and scored for a 3-1 Grand Haven lead. Thirty seconds later, Dear would pass to Keyser, who scored her hat-trick goal to put the Bucs up 4-1.
At the 23-minute mark of the second half, Keyser added another goal with a breakaway from midfield. Keyser added an assist to her night with 8:40 left in the game, when she put up a cross pass to Ellery Bylsma, who scored her first goal of the night.
The Buccaneers improve to 6-2-2 overall and 4-2-1 in the O-K Red Conference. They take to the pitch Monday as they host Forest Hills Central.
BUCS SOFTBALL FALLS TO HUDSONVILLE
The Grand Haven softball team fell behind early and could never recover in a 10-0 road loss to Hudsonville on Thursday in O-K Red Conference action.
"We seem to put together four good outings in a row and then throw in a head-scratcher," said Grand Haven head coach John Hall. "We have to learn to bring that consistent effort every game. Right now, we seem to take two steps forward and then one step back."
Baby Hang collected two hits in the game to lead the Buccaneer offense, while Jackie Crow also added a hit.
Madison Shumaker started the game for Grand Haven from the circle. She went three innings, allowing eight runs on seven hits. Megan Faber threw one and two-thirds innings out of the bullpen.
The Buccaneers will look for a bounce-back effort this weekend, as they travel to Stevensville Lakeshore for an invitational tournament.
LAKER TENNIS SWEEPS COMSTOCK PARK
The Spring Lake girls tennis team scored an 8-0 win over Comstock Park on Thursday in O-K Blue Conference action.
At No. 1 singles, Erin Henderson scored a 6-2, 6-2 win, while Jensen Hussey added a 6-1, 6-0 victory at No. 2 singles. Taylor Duer added a 6-1, 6-3 win at No. 3 singles and Lily Clare Winter won her match by a score of 6-3, 6-1.
In doubles play, Rachel Oostindie and Adeline Sherman scored a 6-0, 6-3 win at No. 1 doubles, while Kayli Sneller and Cameryn Veine added a 6-0, 6-0 win at No. 2 doubles. Erin Burke and Zoe Walters scored a 6-0, 6-2 win at No. 3 doubles, while Taylor Gates and Erika McSheehy rounded out the scoring for the Lakers with a 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 win at No. 4 doubles.
The Lakers travel to NorthPointe Christian today for another conference road match.
SL GIRLS LAX EDGES WEST OTTAWA
The Spring Lake girls lacrosse team used a strong offensive performance on the attack to record an 11-8 win over West Ottawa on Thursday.
McKenzie Ely and Kate Vinkemulder each scored four goals to lead the Lakers, while Josie Brown added two goals and Macey Carey added one.
Paris Heard recorded 10 saves in the cage to help the Lakers hold on for the win.
“With some adjustments from the previous night, the defense had a strong performance and helped us maintain the lead throughout the game,” added Spring Lake head coach Jason Vinkemulder.
The Lakers return to action Monday as they travel to take on Grand Rapids Catholic Central.
TROJAN SOCCER MERCIES MUSKEGON
The Fruitport girls soccer team scored an 8-0 mercy win over Muskegon on Thursday in O-K Black Conference action.
After a slow start, Lauren Peterson buried two goals past the Big Reds to lift the host Trojans to a 2-0 halftime lead.
Fruitport exploded for six goals in the second half with goals from two goals from Isabelle Raven and one goal each from Ellie Fisher, Jaydie Hanks, Kylie Oberlin and a hat-trick goal for Peterson. Assisting on goals were Olivia Langlois, Hanks and Oberlin.
The Trojans improve to 5-3-1 overall and 4-1-1 in O-K Black play. Fruitport hosts Kenowa Hills on Saturday.
TROJAN BASEBALL DIMES GR UNION
The Fruitport baseball team cruised to a 12-2 road win over Grand Rapids Union on Thursday in O-K Black Conference action.
Lucas Kleyn was the winning pitcher, going three innings allowing two runs on four hits and four strikeouts. Brodie Boes came in relief, going two innings with four strikeouts. Leading hitters for Fruitport was Kleyn with two hits and two RBIs and Nick Kleinhecksel with three RBIs and Parker Tawney with two.