Volleyball's McKenna Otto and Ana Grunewald Named to All-MIAA First Team

McKenna Otto, Ana Grunewald, Gabbi Vachon and Tracy Westra pose for portraits by Alan Babbitt

McKenna Otto's and Ana Grunewald's impact on the Hope College volleyball team can be seen and felt all over the court.

The two sophomores have been recognized for their performances as All-Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association First Team honorees by the league's coaches for the 2019 seasons.

This is Otto's second first-team selection and Grunewald's first.

Otto, a middle blocker from Wheaton, Illinois (Wheaton North HS) averaged 3.21 kills and a .346 hitting percentage in eight MIAA matches this season.

"McKenna is an incredibly strong and dynamic middle hitter," head coach Becky Schmidt said. "She hits the slide so well and makes herself easy to set in transition. As much as I love McKenna's gifts as a volleyball player, her gifts as a teammate are just as significant."

Grunewald, an outside hitter from Grand Rapids, Michigan (East Grand Rapids), contributed 3.33 kills and 3.58 digs per set in eight MIAA matches.

"Ana is one of the finest six-rotation outside hitters our program has ever had," Schmidt said. "She can hit every shot on the court and is a fantastic defender. Her presence on the court keeps our team steady even in tense situations. She never backs down from a challenge."

Two Hope volleyball student-athletes were chosen as All-MIAA Second Team selections: senior libero Gabbi Vachon of Grand Rapids, Michigan (Jenison) and sophomore setter Tracy Westra of Clarendon Hills, Illinois (Timothy Christian).

Vachon averaged a team-high 4.08 digs per set in MIAA play.

"Gabbi has been the rock of our defense for two years, but her leadership off the court has been just as valuable as her skills on it," Schmidt said. "Gabbi has worked hard to build relationships with all of her teammates and is able to hold them to the highest standards. I'm so proud of how she has continued to grow throughout her four years at Hope and am thankful for the impact she has on our team."

Westra contributed 6.13 assists and nearly one kill per set during MIAA matches this season while playing in a two-setter system.

"Tracy is a servant leader in a setter's uniform," Schmidt said. "She has worked hard to improve her defense, is quick to respond to feedback from hitters and carefully attends to the game plan in order to run an efficient offense. As a setter that only plays 3-rotations, I am glad that other coaches see what we see in selecting her for this honor."

Hope finished second in the MIAA regular-season standings with a 7-1 league record. The Flying Dutch are the No. 2 seed for the MIAA Tournament.

"We truly feel that all individual recognition is representative of the success earned by the entire team," Schmidt said. "While we are excited for these four student-athletes, we are also proud of the efforts put forth by all 16 players on our roster."

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