Volleyball Delivers Furious Finish, Wins at Alma in MIAA Opener

by Alan Babbitt

The Hope College volleyball team struck fast and furious to put away its first Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association opponent of the season.

The 19th-ranked Flying Dutch scored 18 of the final 22 points during the third set at Alma College on Tuesday to secure a 25-16, 25-13, 25-17 victory.

The match featured the second- and third-place teams in the MIAA Preseason Coaches Poll.

Hope improved its record to 11-3 overall. The Flying Dutch's next match is Saturday, September 28 at 1 p.m. at DeVos Fieldhouse against second-ranked Calvin College. 

Middle hitter McKenna Otto, the reigning MIAA Volleyball Athlete of the Week, recorded four of her match-high 11 kills during the decisive finish. The sophomore from Wheaton, Illinois (Wheaton North HS) delivered a kill percent of .391 for the match.

Strong, aggressive serving from senior Gabbi Vachon of Grand Rapids, Michigan (Jenison), sophomore Grace Pettinger of Mount Vernon, Iowa (Mount Vernon), senior Jenna VanderLaan of Byron Center, Michigan (South Chrsitian) and Otto kept the Scots off balance and unable to string any points in succession.

Head coach Becky Schmidt said her team did a good job of getting back the style of volleyball the Flying Dutch wanted to play after Alma took a 13-7 lead during the third set.

"One of the things we talked about in the huddle in that timeout was playing from our core," Schmidt said. "It wasn't just about being strong literally in our core on passing, attacking or serving. It was getting a little more heart, too. They absolutely did that. They started being a lot more aggressive in every facet of the game instead of backing down like we had been doing in the beginning of the third set.

"Intentionality and purpose continue to be something that, when we have it, we're really tough. When we let that slip a little bit, anybody can get back in the game with us. Once we took the intentionality back, we're started playing assertive volleyball again."

Sophomore outside hitter Ana Grunewald of Grand Rapids, Michigan (East Grand Rapids) chipped in eight kills during the match.

Sophomore setter Tracy Westra of Clarendon Hills, Illinois (Timothy Christian) totaled seven kills and 17 assists.

Junior setter Adair Cutler of East Lansing, Michigan (Lansing Christian) added 16 assists for the Flying Dutch

Hope's balanced attack featured eight players with at least three kills.

Hope.edu | PO Box 9000, Holland, Michigan 49422