by Abigail Krueger '21
The 2019 season is far from finished for the Hope College volleyball team after a compelling takedown of Trine University on Friday.
The No. 10-ranked Flying Dutch swept the Thunder, 25-18, 25-11, 25-20, in a Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Tournament semifinal victory at Calvin University's Van Noord Arena.
Hope (22-6 overall) advanced to Saturday's 7 p.m. championship match against No. 2 Calvin. The winner will receive an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Tournament. The Flying Dutch split matches with Calvin this season — with the visiting team winning each time.
"We're really excited for tomorrow's match," head coach Becky Schmidt said. "We are more comfortable playing on this court now, and we love how we've been playing as a team."
Photo of Molly Ligon by Sheila Morrigan
The defeat of the third-seeded Thunder was dictated by an incredible effort from the Flying Dutch defense.
Hope totaled 14 blocks. Outside hitter Molly Ligon of Beverly Hills, Michigan (Birmingham Seaholm HS) secured five of these blocks. She also led the Flying Dutch with 13 kills and maintained a staggering .632 hitting percentage.
"I was super impressed by Molly Ligon and loved how she played both offensively and defensively," Schmidt said. "Her blocking was strong, especially in the second set. She was hitting the ball better than she has all season."
Senior Gabbi Vachon of Grand Rapids, Michigan (Jenison) and sophomore Ana Grunewald of Grand Rapids, Michigan (East Grand Rapids) dug up shots that didn't get blocked. They collected 11 digs each. Sophomore Sasha Poland of Norton Shores, Michigan (Mona Shores) also contributed to the team's defensive effort bringing in nine digs.
Sophomore middle hitter McKenna Otto chipped in 11 kills. The two-time, All-MIAA honoree helped fuel a nine-point run during the first set that overcame an early 7-2 Trine lead.
Calvin (23-2) defeated fifth-seeded Albion in Friday's second semifinal