by Alan Babbitt
In a week full of rematches, the 16th-ranked Hope College volleyball team started off with one of its best performances of the season.
The Flying Dutch downed Albion College in three sets on Wednesday, winning 25-20, 25-12, 25-13 at DeVos Fieldhouse and improving to 17-4 overall.
Hope beat Albion for the second time this season. The Flying Dutch also won in four sets September 8 in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Preview Tournament they hosted.
Next up for Hope is the Midwest Invitational hosted by Calvin College this weekend that includes rematches with two of the four teams responsible for Flying Dutch losses this season: seventh-ranked Thomas More College (Kentucky) and No. 19 Ohio Northern University.
"That's probably the best from start to finish, from an execution standpoint, that we've played," head coach Becky Schmidt said. "We really took care of the ball. I thought we served pretty tough. Our offense is really starting to click a lot more than we've seen. Credit our setters for that. (Adair Cutler and Tracy Westra) are running a really dynamic offense that's going to keep even really strong defensive teams like Albion off-balance."
Cutler and Westra combined for 37 assists as the Flying Dutch raised their MIAA record to 4-1.
Cutler, a sophomore from East Lansing, Michigan (Lansing Christian HS), recorded 20 assists.
Westra, a freshman from Clarendon Hills, Illinois (Timothy Christian), had 17 assists.
Hope totaled 48 kills to Albion's 21. The Flying Dutch hit a season-best .367 as a team.
Freshman middle hitter McKenna Otto of Wheaton, Illinois (Wheaton North) topped a balanced Hope attack with 10 kills.
Senior outside hitter Katie Rietberg of Holland, Michigan (West Ottawa) chipped in eight kills.
Westra and freshman outside hitter Ana Grunewald of Grand Rapids, Michigan (East Grand Rapids) totaled seven kills apiece.
Junior outside hitter Ryann Stutz of Kalamazoo, Michigan (Parchment) added six kills against Albion, which fell to 10-8 overall and 3-3 in MIAA play.