GRAND HAVEN — Reeths-Puffer volleyball has not been near the top of the most successful programs at the school in some time. The Rockets, though, are starting to inch up the ladder.
R-P showed it again Wednesday, defeating Kenowa Hills 25-17, 25-20, 24-26, 25-21 in a district semifinal match to earn its second straight district finals bid. (R-P also defeated Union Monday in the pre-district round.)
It’s the first time this decade the Rockets have gone that far two seasons in a row.
“To go to district finals two years in a row is pretty neat,” Rockets’ coach Alex Rykse said. “It’s just fun to see kids’ attitudes towards volleyball at Reeths-Puffer change. They’re excited. They’re having fun. It’s just fun to see how well they can play.”
R-P largely commanded the first two games of the match, taking comfortable leads into the late portions of both before the Knights came back to make things interesting. In game three, R-P looked disjointed, and Kenowa Hills was able to hang around long enough to steal the game with back-to-back kills at the end.
That off-balance play continued into game four, but the Rockets stormed back late with key aces from Kenna Grant and Sydney Edwards to secure the victory.
“The big things we talked about were keeping energy high and not making mistakes,” Rykse said of the late parts of the match. “Kenowa’s a team that will let you make mistakes. They keep the ball alive. We really worked at minimizing those and attacking certain spots on the floor.”
Brianna Stawski has led the R-P offense most of the season, and had 11 kills Wednesday, but it was Lindsey Ruiter’s show on that side of the net as she posted 16 kills and four blocks. It was Ruiter who was set for many of the match’s key points, a product of the emphasis Rykse likes to put on the Rockets’ middle hitters.
“Both Lindsey and Bri have led us most of the season,” Rykse said. “We definitely try to use our middles. Lindsey made a great impact on the game.”
Stawski led the Rocket defense with 17 digs, and Elizabeth Jordan posted 26 assists. The Rockets also served well, making few errors.
“We do try to serve really tough and take teams out of system,” Rykse said. “Tonight I thought we did well.”
Rockets drop finals match
GRAND HAVEN —