'Girls Night Out' Takes over Stadium

September 19, 2012

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

A crowd of roughly 1,200 fans – including more than 700 students – loaded into Muskegon Mona Shores' football stadium on Sept. 5.

Batman, Captain America and the Cat in the Hat were there among cheering sections out in full force. Festivities included plenty of sun and live music to keep the crowd rolling. 

It was a typical football night. And this was a typical football crowd. But Sept. 5 was a Wednesday. And the four teams playing on this night were a little bit "outside" of their natural element.

Mona Shores hosted the Grand Haven, Fruitport and Spring Lake volleyball teams for "Girls Night Out," a quad match that began with two rounds on portable courts in the football stadium and finished before a raucous crowd inside the Sailors' gym.

“The energy was outstanding. The student athletes playing loved the fact they were treated like football players on a Friday night,” Mona Shores athletic director Ryan Portenga said. “We had the adults in the bleachers facing the kids, and portable bleachers closed off (the court) with student sections yelling back and forth. It was wild.”

The idea was sparked some by a similar match between Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central and Grand Rapids Christian last season, when those teams played on a portable court on top of a high jump area.

But the additional challenge at Mona Shores was building two courts so four teams could play, sitting mostly on the track but also partly on the grass near the football sideline. The 12-by-12 inch plastic tiles, supplied by Illinois-based NetLynx, were pieced together like a puzzle by a crew that worked until 10 p.m. the night before.

Organizers waited out a forecast calling for thunderstorms. And given the significance of these matches, conditions had to be as close as possible to perfect – at the time, Grand Haven and Mona Shores were honorable mentions in Class A, while Fruitport (in A this fall) is the reigning Class B MHSAA champion and Spring Lake was a semifinalist in Fruitport’s district last season.

But it came off with barely a hitch. The first matches began at 6 p.m., and the football stadium lights were turned on about an hour later. The third matches were played in the school’s gym in front of all four student sections cheering throughout the final points.

Mona Shores finished 3-0, while Grand Haven was 2-1. Fruitport ended 1-2 and Spring Lake fell in their three matches.

With the help of a forklift and workers who stayed late, the courts were cleared from the football field by 1 a.m.

“It takes a lot of parental involvement to pull of that kind of event,” Portenga said. “We had a lot of helping hands.”

Click for additional match coverage from the Muskegon Chronicle

PHOTOS courtesy of the Muskegon Mona Shores athletic department.

Fear the Socks: Cadillac Volleyball Success Never Out of Style

By Tom Spencer
Special for MHSAA.com

September 22, 2023

Cadillac’s girls volleyball team is quite accustomed to getting flack from opposing teams’ student sections about their socks.

Northern Lower PeninsulaThat’s not likely to continue much longer though, thanks to the Vikings’ performance on the court and major college teams becoming similarly equipped.

And their new warm-up shirts tell it all. 

“My team has always worn knee socks,” said 23-year veteran Cadillac coach Michelle Brines. “So people will make fun of the team, or they’ll cheer ‘put your socks down’ and this kind of thing. 

“This year we finally got shirts saying ‘Fear the Socks,’” she continued. “The knee socks were in back in the day, and we’ve always worn them.”

Now college powerhouse clubs like Texas and Nebraska wear knee socks. The Cornhuskers just went back to them last season — a year calumniating with an appearance in the national championship match. Nebraska and Texas regularly make runs to and beyond the NCAA Elite Eight.

Under Brines, Cadillac too is used to deep postseason runs including six MHSAA Semifinal appearances. The Vikings made their first appearance in the Division 2 Final last November, falling to North Branch.  

Cadillac is off to a 17-3-2 start this fall preparing for Division 1 competition, as they moved into that division for this season. The Vikings have their sights on another Big North Conference championship too as they prepare for District play in Grand Haven at the end of October. Cadillac is 4-1 in league play.

Cassie Jenema sets for a teammate during a match. The Vikings have been led again this year by all-state middle hitter Carissa Musta. The 6-foot-4 senior is handling the pressure well. Teams celebrating a block of Musta’s hit are quickly shaken off, according to Brines.

“It’s got to be tough when somebody gets all crazy because they just blocked you, but Carissa is very composed,” Brines said. “She never comes off the floor. 

“She’s pretty darn good in the back row,” Brines continued. “I am very impressed with her growth and composure.”

Musta topped the 1,000-kill mark earlier this season and became the school’s career leader in blocks this week in a three-set win over Petoskey.

Senior Makenzie Johns, a 6-1 outside hitter, is also an offensive powerhouse for the Vikings. Senior setter Cassie Jenema comes through regularly with kills in addition to her strong defense and serving.

“We have 11 players on our team, and they all play an important role,” Brines noted. “Even though we have a few that really, really stand out, we are not going to be successful if we’re not all doing our job.”

The Vikings also regularly feature three sophomores: Ari Bryant, Grace Zubak and Sophia Clough. All three were on the freshman team last year because of the team’s depth.

Cadillac shared the Big North championship last year with Traverse City Central. They both suffered home losses to each other but picked up road wins. That trend has continued this year as Central handed Cadillac its lone league loss in five sets on the Vikings’ court. They will play again Oct. 4 in Traverse City.

Brines is pleased with her team’s progress at midseason. The Vikings host Alpena on Wednesday and then battle in the Portage Invitational.

“I have never had a season moving people around as much as I have,” Brines said. “I expect to see a lot of growth out of my team as we go into the second half of the season.”

Brines hopes the Vikings will make a run to the Final again this fall so she can become accustomed to a new routine.

“We finally broke through and won that (Friday Semifinal) night game and got to play the next day, which had never happened,” Brines recalled. “I didn’t really know what to do because usually I was going out for dinner with my team because we lost.”


The knee socks are the Vikings' signature also at the freshman and junior varsity levels. “We have all of our levels wear them — it is kind of our thing,” Brines pointed out. “When we walk in we have knee socks, people know we’re Cadillac.

“It’s kind of fun,” she continued. “I am old school.”

Ari Bryant keeps the ball in play.Crew socks are allowed in practice, however. Brines and the Vikings seriously considered getting away from their long-standing tradition.   

“I used to make them wear them in practice,” Brines said. “One of my players that went on to coach some college and be a head coach herself said ‘Coach, you can’t do (stop wearing them) because that’s what you kind of always done and nobody else wears knee socks.’”

A spokesperson for Nebraska said there’s no real reason Nebraska went back to wearing long socks beyond player preference, and that it seems like that trend is coming back in volleyball. 

“Very cool,” Brines said with a smile when she learned of the Cornhuskers response. “So basically, we never went out of style.”

Tom SpencerTom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Cadillac's McKenzie Johns unloads on an attempt during a match. (Middle) Cassie Jenema sets for a teammate during a match. (Below) Ari Bryant keeps the ball in play. (Photos by Marc Vieau/Cadillac News).