GRAND HAVEN — Grand Haven volleyball’s district semifinal went exactly according to plan on Wednesday. The Buccaneers took care of business early against an outnumbered and outmatched Muskegon team, and won a convincing three-set match 25-6, 25-9, 25-9.
It was not the caliber of team Grand Haven usually faces in conference play, but the Bucs were still alert to deal with a different style of play than what they’re used to.
“It’s a different challenge, but I thought we did well executing,” senior Reilly Swierbut said. “We got done what we needed to get done.”
The Bucs won 10 of the first 11 points in the first set, largely thanks to solid serving from Samantha Boeve. With leads as big as 16 points, Grand Haven strolled to a first-set win with a handful of rotated players playing big roles in a playoff match.
Junior Olivia Lovett directed the offense while rotating with Boeve, and Lovett led the team in aces with seven. Reece Redder and Hallie Rittel also chipped in, picking up six and five respectively. Grand Haven as a team had 27 aces to just 7 serving errors, placing 90% of their serves in to test the Big Reds defensively.
“No matter who you play, you want to play your best against them,” Grand Haven head coach Aaron Smaka said. “It was cool because a lot of people got a lot of experience. They performed so well, it could give them confidence if we get down the road and their number’s called on.”
It was also a chance for a handful of crucial players to rest for the night, as Ashley Slater, Mackenzie Gross and Sarah Knoll did not feature. Instead, freshman Kendall Woiteshek picked up her first varsity kill in the second set, Anna Clover tied for a team lead with 8 digs, and Alena Whittaker led the team in kills with six.
“It was really good to see them all get in and play,” Swierbut said. “We all love the sport and it’s great that they get to play in a district semifinal. We’re so excited for tomorrow. We want to get in, take care of business and move on to the next round.”
It was also a much cleaner night with the volleyball than Grand Haven’s first-round match on Monday, as the team had just 9 hitting errors as they cruised through the second set 25-9. The standout play of the night came from Clover in that set, as she found herself momentarily out of position and had to dive to dig a shot from a Muskegon player before winning the point later on.
“There were some consistency things to fix up,” Smaka said. “Practice on Tuesday was awesome and I think they’re locked in. We're playing our best volleyball now.”
A 25-9 third set pushed the Bucs into the district final, where they’ll take on Reeths-Puffer. The Rockets defeated Kenowa Hills in four sets earlier in the night. The district final from the Grand Haven fieldhouse will start around 7 p.m. on Thursday.