By Dave Hart
But don’t tell that to Buccaneer Coach Aaron Smaka – at least not yet – even with seven players returning from last season’s state semifinal squad.
“We have to keep getting better,” said Smaka, whose Buccaneers dismantled the Falcons 3-0 on their home court in an O-K Red Conference matchup.
“I think it is definitely in the cards, it’s one of our goals to get back, but we know that it’s a lot of work because there are a lot of great teams out there.
“We are going to do our best to put ourselves in the best position to win those playoff matches.”
The Buccaneers are now 31-4 overall and 4-0 in the conference, good for first-place in the O-K Red.
Grand Haven, who is ranked fourth in the state, is looking for its first league title since 2012. The last two seasons the Bucs finished in second-place, including last fall when they lost a five-set match to East Kentwood for the title.
The Bucs had little trouble takings their revenge on Thursday, racing past the Falcons by the scores of 25-12, 25-16 and 25-14.
The Buccaneers never trailed during the first two sets.
They jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first set on three service points and one ace from Emily Lachmann. The Buccaneers took control with an 8-0 run that gave them an insurmountable 20-9 lead.
Lachmann, who had 12 kills and two aces in the match, started the second set like the first, with three early service points to give the Buccaneers a 4-0 lead. East Kentwood cut its deficit to 6-4, but never got any closer.
The Falcons took their first lead during the third set, jumping out to a 4-1 lead. But the Bucs rallied and closed the set and match with a 19-7 burst.
Morgan Ross led the Buccaneers with 19 kills, Sophia Newhouse had 28 digs and Katie Cole chipped in 45 assists.
“At this point right now we are struggling,” said East Kentwood Coach Heather Magelssen. “But Grand Haven is a tremendous team, and unfortunately we did not play up to our capabilities tonight.”