by Eva Dean Folkert
The Hope College volleyball team culminated its 2019 regular-season schedule on Saturday with a dominating win over MIAA opponent Olivet College in straight sets, 25-8, 25-10, 25-20.
The 13th-ranked Flying Dutch are now 21-6 overall and 7-1 in the league and have claimed second place in the MIAA. With that finish, Hope has earned the second seed in the 2019 MIAA Volleyball Tournament and will receive a bye into the semifinals.
On Friday, November 8 at a time to be determined, the Flying Dutch will play the winner of the first-round match between third-seed Trine University and sixth-seed Saint Mary's College who play on Tuesday, November 5. Host and top-seeded Calvin University receives the other bye into the semis and will play the winner of a first-round game between fourth-place Alma College and fifth-place Albion College who also play on Tuesday.
The title match is Saturday, November 9 at Calvin at a time to be determined. The tournament champ receives the MIAA's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Saturday's win was a full-team accomplishment as 15 players took the floor for the Flying Dutch. They led throughout the first two sets and overcame a three-point deficit at 14-17 in the third set by going on a five-point run and overpowering the Comets late in the match.
Defensively against Olivet, Hope held an opponent to its lowest point total in a 25-point set (8 in the first set) and to its second-lowest hitting percentage for a three-set match (-.018) this season.
Offensively against Olivet, the Flying Dutch hit at an almost eight-point higher clip (.293) than their season average (.217).
Middle hitter McKenna Otto, this week's MIAA and National Player of the week, led Hope with nine kills on a .450 hitting percentage. The sophomore from Wheaton, Illinois (Wheaton North HS) had no hitting errors, three service aces and two blocks.
Junior Rose Thompson of Coopersville (Unity Christian HS) tallied seven kills and three blocks.
Three Hope players had double-digit digs: Sophomore Ana Grunewald of Grand Rapids (East Grand Rapids HS) with 12 and freshman Sasha Poland of Norton Shores (Mona Shores HS) and senior Gabbi Vachon of Grand Rapids (Jenison HS) with 11 each.