By Dave Hart
The Buccaneers have won eight Class A district titles in a row, and 14 in the past 15 years. Their latest title came in a 3-0 victory over Mona Shores on their home court on Friday.
But winning beyond districts has been another matter for the Bucs, who have captured only two regional titles in that 15-year span. One of those came last season, when Grand Haven advanced all the way to the Class A state semifinals.
Grand Haven, now 48-7 on the season, will begin another push for state glory on Tuesday in the first round of regionals at Grandville High School. They will play either East Grand Rapids or Grand Rapids Christian, who will play in a district title match on Saturday.
“I thought we attacked aggressively tonight and kept on getting better,” said Grand Haven Coach Aaron Smaka, following the win over Mona Shores. “This group is hungry.
“Our regional, however, is brutal, and it will be tough to succeed. It’s going to be a great season no matter what happens next week.”
The Buccaneers were led by senior Emily Lachmann with 13 kills. Morgan Ross added 11 kills and Olivia Boeve had nine.
Sophia Newhouse had 20 digs for Grand Haven, while Lachmann added 19 and Katie Cole had 16 digs and 43 assists.
“It’s my favorite time of year,” said Lachmann, a four-year varsity player who has been a district champion every season. “We came out with a ‘We want to win’ mentality tonight. It would be so amazing to be a part of two regionals titles.”
Grand Haven played to a 5-5 tie with Mona Shores in the first set before pulling ahead with a 5-0 run on service points by Cole.
The Buccaneers led by a minimum of three points the rest of the way and won the opener 25-20.
Grand Haven jumped out to a 4-0 lead during the second set before Mona Shores bounced back and tied the score. But the Bucs took control with an 8-2 run and cruised to a 25-19 victory.
The Buccaneers saved their best for last, starting the third set with an 8-1 run, finishing with a 17-10 burst and winning 25-11.
“You have to credit Grand Haven,” said Mona Shores Coach Dan Potts, whose team closed its season with a 29-16 record. “Their tradition is incredible. Coach Smaka does a great job.
“I am real proud of my kids, we improved all year long.”
The Sailors were led by Madison Dunn with five kills, Kennedy Potts with 16 digs and Kaitlin Hermanson with 11 assists.