by Alan Babbitt
The Hope College volleyball team will play DePauw University (Indiana) in the first round of the NCAA Division III Tournament on Thursday, November 8 at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The match is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.
Links for live video and stats can be found at the top of this page.
HOW THEY GOT HERE
Hope. The No. 15-ranked Flying Dutch received an at-large berth after finishing runner-up in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Tournament. Hope posted a 25-7 record during the regular season, including a second-place mark of 7-1 in MIAA play. The Flying Dutch are making their 15th postseason appearance and return after a 10-season streak was snapped in 2018.
DePauw. The Tigers also claimed an at-large berth after losing in the semifinals of the North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament. DePauw (17-10 overall) came in second place during the NCAC regular season. This is the Tigers' eighth postseason appearance and third in a row.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Hope. Senior outside Katie Rietberg and freshman middle hitter McKenna Otto were All-MIAA First Team honorees for the Flying Dutch this season. Otto also was named MIAA Freshman of the Year. Rietberg set a school record with 28 kills during a four-set win against Albion College earlier this season. Middle hitter Grace Ditzenberger established a school record with 12 blocks during a five-set win against Ohio Northern. Setters Adair Cutler and Tracy Westra share setter duties.
DePauw. Four Tigers received All-NCAC honors this season, including NCAC Player of the Year, senior outside hitter Suzanna Peters. A two-time, All-NCAC selection, Peters tops the NCAC in kills per set and ranks in the Top 20 nationally. Junior right-side hitter Morgan Stearley is a first-team selection along with Peters who averaged 3.49 kills per set. DePauw's two second-team honorees are junior outside hitter Liz Hartman and freshman libero Jenna Purichia.
MEET THE COACHES
Hope. Becky Schmidt is in her 15th season as head coach at Hope, her alma mater. She owns a career record of 433-137, including a 395-104 mark during her time leading the Flying Dutch. She has guided Hope to 11 NCAA Tournament appearances, three trips to the national quarterfinals, two to the national semifinals, and one national championship in 2014.
DePauw. Deb Zeller is in her 24th year as head coach at DePauw, her alma mater. She has a career record of 546-272 and guided the Tigers to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2016 and 2014.
Head coach Becky Schmidt says of DePauw, "They are able to hit from lots of different angles. It's a challenging matchup in terms of one of our strengths is to be able to get teams out of system with really tough serving and a balanced and aggressive offense. They are going to be able to find ways to get those outside hitters the ball. It starts with our block, making sure our block is strong and stable, not trying to take angles they're not aligned for. If our block is able to stay disciplined and strong, I'm really confident in the growth I've seen in our defense and being able to get ourselves in the right positions and keep the ball off the floor."
The Hope-DePauw winner advances to the Friday, November 9 regional semifinal at 5:30 p.m. to face either No. 3 Wittenberg University (Ohio) or Carthage College (Wisconsin).