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Multiple Teams · East Grand Rapids returns five starters from district title squad


EAST GRAND RAPIDS — As the East Grand Rapids volleyball team battled through last season, it just got stronger and stronger.

Once the Pioneers hit their stride, they were off and running, as the 2016 season culminated in a district title. They are looking to build on that success as they head into 2017.

“Last year we started inconsistent,” Pioneers coach Chris Grunewald said. “We were trying to find the right lineup, but once we did that, we finished strong. I think winning the district title was a testament to that.”

The Pioneers return five starters in the lineup. Seniors Ana Grunewald, Katie Persons, and Sara Vargo cover a lot of ground as a fearsome threesome. Grunewald will share time in the 6-2 setting rotation. She will also hit outside. Persons takes care of the defense in the libero spot. Sara Vargo is a threat defensively with a big block in the middle, and offensively as a strong hitter.

“Katie Persons is very aggressive and takes control of the back row,” said the coach. “Ana is super-competitive and consistent. She is a smart player. Sara puts up a nice block. She can hit well from outside and middle. She’s very versatile.”

A pair of juniors are ready to return to the lineup as well. Katie Huizinga is an athletic middle blocker. Andie Salasky will cover the other setter spot. She is also a competitive defenseman. Gracie Gorsline is currently out with an injury, but is hopeful for a return to the lineup this season.

Gracie Gorsline will be joined by a pair of familiar faces in triplet sisters Libby and Belle. Both will contribute from the outside.

Olivia Bergsma is a sophomore right-side and Abby Williams is a setter/defensive specialist. Kyra Allen will add strong defense and serving to the team.

East Grand Rapids will open OK Gold Conference play with Forest Hills Eastern on Sept. 12.