Grand Haven Tribune: Bumpin' start
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Bumpin' start

Duncan MacLean • Apr 12, 2019 at 12:39 AM

GRAND HAVEN TWP. — If you come at the king, you best not miss.

The Grand Haven boys volleyball team kicked off their title-defending season in style Thursday night, sweeping their season-opening quad at home.

Lowell, Mona Shores and West Ottawa all tried their hand at usurping Grand Haven in each program’s first forays into the new expanded season of Michigan boys volleyball.

Gavin Yonker led the Bucs with 18 assists, nine kills and four blocks. Fellow setter Scott Matthew racked up 19 assists, while Gavin Jonker led the offense with 26 kills and 18 aces. Max Hartney came next on the kill list with 14, and the ace standings with six.

“We’re ahead of where I thought we would be,” said Grand Haven head coach Jim Vantol. “I was worried about ball control and serving, which tonight were our strengths. The guys have been working really hard on that in practice and it showed tonight. We didn’t get aced hardly at all and we were making good plays out of the passes we got.”

The Bucs first dismissed Lowell by scores of 25-10 and 25-11. While the tally was lopsided, the Red Arrows put their potential on display, forcing Grand Haven to play their best game of the night.

“I knew Lowell would be pretty good,” Vantol said. “They have Jordan Drake, who is a really good indoor player, coaching them up. The score didn’t show it, but they are a very good team. Their program kind of looks like ours with really good coaches and some really good athletes.

“I think we knew they were pretty good, so we played our best match of the night against them.”

Mona Shores came next, hanging around in both sets, but ultimately falling to Bucs’ blistering serves and locked-down ball control, 25-19, 25-21.

“Mona Shores played really well, especially defensively,” Vantol added.”

Finally, West Ottawa gave the Bucs’ its best shot, forcing a little sweat from the Bucs, 25-19, 25-19.

“West Ottawa played nice defense, too,” Vantol said. “We have a little more offensive firepower than most teams, but teams like Mona and West Ottawa, their defense was really strong. We had to play well to beat them.

“As a team, we hit .297, which is really high for a boys team. It was really efficient offensively. And, we passed at 1.94, which is really good. Anything near 2 is fantastic.”

With their preseason event out of the way, Grand Haven will host the other five members of the Lakeshore Conference on Monday to kick off official conference play.

Allendale, West Ottawa, Mona Shores, South Christian and Reeths-Puffer will all visit Grand Haven on Monday to kick off the conference season. The Bucs are scheduled to take on South Christian at 5 p.m.

“We’ve seen Allendale and they are a pretty good team,” Vantol said of the conference competition. “We’ve seen West Ottawa and Mona Shores now. The one that intrigues me is South Christian. They have had a middle school boys program for a number of years now. They may have as much experience as we do on the court. That game will be exciting.”

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