by Alan Babbitt
Down to its final point, a young Hope College volleyball team showed resilience and savvy like a veteran.
The 21st-ranked Flying Dutch rallied for a five-set victory against Wartburg College (Iowa) on Friday at DeVos Fieldhouse in the opener of the inaugural Inspire Hope Tournament.
Hope won 25-23, 19-25, 24-26, 26-24, 15-6 after scoring 10 of the final 12 points during the fifth set. The rally came on the heels of the Flying Dutch closing the fourth set with three consecutive points.
"I was really impressed when our backs were against the wall, we really rose to the occasion," head coach Becky Schmidt said. "There were people who may not have had their best matches to that point, but they had a short memory and found ways to be successful.
"This was a great place to start. They're a good team."
Hope wraps up the Inspire Hope Tournament on Saturday with an 11 a.m. match against Bluffton University (Ohio) and a 1:30 p.m. match against Wisconsin Lutheran College.
Sophomore middle hitter McKenna Otto of Wheaton, Illinois (Wheaton North) topped the Flying Dutch with 15 kills on a .303 kill percentage.
Sophomore outside hitter Ana Grunewald of East Grand Rapids, Michigan (East Grand Rapids HS) added 14 kills, including two to help spark the Flying Dutch's decisive match-clinching surge.
Junior outside hitter Rose Thompson of Coopersville, Michigan (Hudsonville Unity Christian) chipped in 10 kills.
Freshman outside hitter Jenna Core of Spring Lake, Michigan (Spring Lake) contributed seven kills.
The Flying Dutch were grateful for a loud and supportive crowd, including more than 200 students.
"The students were awesome," Schmidt said. "That made a big difference in terms of atmosphere. They were really into the match, and we were super appreciative of that."