Volleyball has magical season marked with district title


Macayla Cramer

The Lady Bucs cheer after scoring a point in the regional final against Rockford. Strong defense was a hallmark for the team this year.

Ashton Voorhees, Reporter

The girls volleyball team finished the season with a record of 35-19-2 and which earned them fifth place in the O-K Red conference, and added a thrilling postseason run, losing to Rockford in the regional finals.

“I was happy to have my last time on a volleyball court to be at home,” senior Olivia McMullen said. “Our conference and region is just so tough. It wasn’t the worst thing to end our season against Rockford. I wouldn’t have had it any other way, and I’m glad that everyone that wanted to come could.”

Even though they did not finish at the top of the conference due to a midseason stretch where they lost close games against tough competition, the team got the results that mattered in the end. The same reason that they were able to move on past their slump was the same reason they were so hard to stop in the postseason their chemistry.

“They were one of the best teams I’ve coached in terms of a team, and unity, and supporting each other,” head coach Aaron Smaka said. “There were no cliques, no jealousy between teammates about anything like playing time. They were unified, they were a really tight-knit group, and they were really hard working even through adversity.”

Having a strong postseason certainly builds great memories to send seniors off, as many stepped off of a volleyball court for their final time after losing in the regional finals. For Grand Haven volleyball next year, it means experience and confidence for those returning.

“With the postseason, once you lose you’re done and then you can’t practice,” head coach Aaron Smaka said. “We want to practice as much as possible, and so while we keep training and keep getting better, other schools are done. So we had five more practices worth of experience. For those kids to be in those games with all of that atmosphere and get that experience will only help them next year.”

Experience comes at a surplus for the team next year, as over 1,100 kills return between juniors Ashley Slater and Sarah Knoll, and sophomore Mackenzie Gross. Sophomore Samantha Boeve has been a great setter so far in her time on varsity, and still has two more years left to grow, and juniors Reilly Swierbut and Reece Redder have both gained a lot defensive experience.

“We have a lot of returners next year,” junior Ashley Slater said. “It will be a special team to be a part of again.”

No matter how things turn out next August, the players from this year’s team can look back on their 2018 season with pride. A regional run at home, with plenty of their friends and family cheering them on from the sidelines, is just one great part of an overall successful season for the Bucs.

“For this group, knowing that Rockford went on to the state finals, knowing that we were in it and having an opportunity to win hurts a little bit of course,” head coach Aaron Smaka. “But we played well and Rockford took their opportunities. Every team leaves with it’s own memory and legacy, and I can feel good knowing that this team was such a tight group and these girls will have relationships and friendships for a very long time.”