GRAND HAVEN – After nearly a month away from home, Grand Haven volleyball got back to winning ways on Thursday night. With Caledonia in town, the Bucs used a dominant opening set to push forward, sweeping the Scots 25-13. 25-16, 25-22. 

A focus over the past week for the Bucs was finishing matches strongly and improving as the night went on. On Thursday, it wasn’t perfect in every point, but Grand Haven was able to get the job done against a lively Caledonia team – even with a pair of players sidelined by sickness. 

“When you start the game 10-1, that’s a good sign,” Grand Haven head coach Aaron Smaka said. “In all our conference games, we’ve had the ability to start quick. I thought we did an okay job of improving as the match goes on.”

The Bucs won 10 of the match’s first 11 points, with both Sarah Knoll and Samantha Boeve picking up some early service points. Grand Haven’s passing on the offensive side of the net was accurate enough to frustrate Caledonia, as the Scots were forced into a handful of errors in the opening set.

After stretching the lead to 15-4, Grand Haven cruised to a first-set victory, the 25-13 scoreline coming thanks to a handful of kills from both senior Ashley Slater and junior Mackenzie Gross. The two led the team in kills on the night with 21 and 8 respectively. 

Samantha Boeve led the team with 30 assists, while both Boeve and Slater had a pair of aces on the night.

The second set pushed the Bucs a little harder than the first, with the set sitting tied at 12 midway through. Junior Lexie Kallio stepped in to make a crucial block at 18-16, and the Bucs used that momentum to finish off the last 7 points to take the second set.

“We did a good job playing consistently tonight,” Smaka said. “We executed our gameplan too. In the second set, being tight the whole way through and being able to finish strong was good too. In the second set, Lexie had the kill to end it, so she came in and did a really nice job to help finish that up.”

The third set was another back-and-forth situation, but Grand Haven kept finding ways to win points or force Caledonia mistakes. Despite being up just 19-18 late in the set, the Bucs picked up the final few points to win the match, with Gross picking up the final kill to seal the deal. 

“In the last couple weeks, we’re doing a lot better in the middle,” Smaka added. “We’ve been working hard on being effective there, so they’ve come a long way.”

Grand Haven will travel to Mona Shores this weekend for a Saturday tournament before returning home on Tuesday for a conference matchup with Rockford.

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