By Mark Lewis
Local Sports Journal

Everybody involved in executing Wednesday night’s outdoor volleyball quad at Mona Shores ought to get a nice pat on the back. It was an incredible event that for once put some of the area’s best female student-athletes front and center.

Novelty was the order of the night.

Choosing to leave the claustrophobic confines of the gymnasium, organizers, including Mona Shores Athletic Director Ryan Portenga, said the event was a chance to showcase Muskegon area volleyball in a unique setting.

Mission accomplished.

It didn’t hurt that the quad featured some of the area’s best teams, including Grand Haven, Fruitport, Spring Lake and the host Sailors.

It also didn’t hurt that hosts went 3-0 on the night.

Opening with a two-game win over Spring Lake, the Sailors looked ready to take on powerful Grand Haven, which dispatched perennial powerful Fruitport in two games in its opener, and which features University of Michigan commit Abby Cole.

Mona Shores opened strong, running out to a 17-7 lead. But the Bucs fought back, due primarily to Cole’s play at the net, narrowing the Sailors’ lead to 20-17 before the hosts closed things out with a 5-2 points edge to take the first set.

Grand Haven controlled much of the second set, and led 18-14 before officials – noticing the quickly developing moisture on the two courts, which were placed along the west end of the track, splitting the 50 yard line – decided to take the game indoors.

Taking the game inside the Sailors’ beautiful new gym, the Bucs fought off a late Mona Shores charge to win set two 25-19.

Like a storybook ending, it all came down to the final set.

With the crowd for schools teams rocking the west end of the gym, the teams battled to an 11-all tie. From there, however, the Sailors took the remaining four points, led by the play of senior Kylie Dennis, to win 15-11, and take the match 2-1.

Grand Haven finished the night with a win over Fruitport, which defeated Spring Lake in its second match, while the Sailors closed out with a win over the Lakers, who failed to win a match all night despite being competitive in all three and nearly beating the Trojans.

All-in-all, it was a great night of competitive high school volleyball in an unique atmosphere.

I mean, how many times can one say he or she had to wear sunglasses at a volleyball quad?

Hopefully, after Wednesday night’s success, that will become a more-than-common phrase.