by Eva Dean Folkert
Between outside hitter Ana Grunewald's kill total, middle hitter McKenna Otto's kill percentage, and the rest of the Flying Dutch efficient performances, everything added up to a well-rounded attack that carried the Hope College volleyball team to a straight-set victory over Trine University Thunder on Saturday, 25-16, 25-21, 25-13.
With the win, the Flying Dutch raised their season records to 13-4 overall and 3-1 in the MIAA. Trine fell to 3-2 in the league and 12-8 overall.
Playing at home on the college's One Big Weekend, Hope never trailed Trine in any set as more than 600 fans watched at DeVos Fieldhouse. As she looked over the game stats for the first time after the match, head coach Becky Schmidt exclaimed, "Wow, that was a productive day!"
Especially at the net. In each set, the Flying Dutch knocked down 17 kills, totaling 51 for the match on a .377 hitting percentage. That was 14 points better than their current season average.
"This was probably one of our best matches in terms of ball control and taking care of the ball without taking unnecessary risks," said Schmidt. "I thought that we swung aggressively when we should have. Plus, we trusted in our defense to be able to get the ball back and then do something better with it."
Sophomore Grunewald of Grand Rapids (East Grand Rapids HS), pictured left, amassed a team-high 14 kills for the match while sophomore Otto of Wheaton, Illinois (Wheaton North HS), pictured center, added 10 on a team-high .667 hitting percentage. Freshman Jenna Core of Spring Lake (Spring Lake HS) and sophomore Molly Ligon of Beverly Hills (Seaholm HS) contributed seven kills each.
"Ana was just super-aggressive as the as the match went on," Schmidt said. "She was fantastic in mixing up her shots and that's one of her gifts. She gets herself in a position to be able to hit anything. McKenna's consistency is phenomenal, and she's been working so hard on the slide behind the setter. That is really coming along and clicking."
"Plus, I thought that our setters did a nice job moving the ball around," Schmidt said. To her point, sophomore setter Tracy Westra of Clarendon Hills, Illinois (Timothy Christian HS) and junior setter Adair Cutler of East Lansing (Lansing Christian HS) tallied 24 and 18 assists, respectively.
Defensively, Hope was led by Gabbi Vachon of Grand Rapids (Jenison HS), pictured right, with 14 digs.
"Gabby played a really good match," Schmidt said. "There were a number of times where she had to dig with a solo or no-block situation and stayed hunkered down and went after the ball aggressively. She was composed but she was all over the court."
The Flying Dutch will be on the road for the next two weeks, starting with an away match at Albion on Wednesday, October 16 at 6:30 p.m. They'll play at home again on Saturday, October 26 with a tri-match against Alma College and the University of Chicago.