There have been ups and downs for the Hope College Flying Dutch this season. But this Saturday, the Hope volleyball squad was determined to finish the regular season on a strong note.
And finish they did. The Dutch completed a gritty 3-1 victory over Albion College, 25-22, 25-22, 23-25, 25-21. The Dutch were led by the tough net presence of Katie Rietberg (’19) who had 14 kills and garnered an astonishing .306 kill percentage throughout the match. Rietberg, Leah Dunlap (’18) and Paige Baker (’18) all had double-digit kills to lead Hope to victory, with Dunlap claiming 13 kills and Baker claiming 12.
Baker also claimed four blocks to lead the Dutch, while Haley Muller (’18) aced three serves. Ever the consistent contributor, setter Sophie Hackett (’18) had 42 assists, 16 digs and seven kills to boost the Dutch. Libero Mallory Luke (’18) had 22 digs to lead Hope on the defensive front.
With the win against Albion, the Dutch claimed a regular- season MIAA league record of 12-4 and an overall record of 18- 10. Additionally, Hope secured the No. 2 seed for the upcoming MIAA Tournament.
No. 1-seeded Calvin College will host the league event, which will be played this coming Friday, Nov. 3 and Saturday, Nov. 4. The Dutch will face off at 5 p.m. on Friday against No. 3-seeded St. Mary’s, who upset Hope in three straight sets on Oct. 17.
Besides playing for the MIAA Championship, this Hope team is playing for the opportunity to continue their season. The Dutch have no chance of earning an at- large bid for the NCAA Division III Tournament, so if they want to advance, they must earn it by taking first-place honors in the league tournament.
Under the leadership of senior Hackett, Dunlap, Baker, Muller and Luke, who have claimed over 100 wins during their time at Hope, the Dutch have a chance to make this postseason a memorable one. Coach Becky Schmidt has frequently referred to this squad as highly talented and competitive. After a decent season, Hope fans should expect those qualities to kick into high gear as the Dutch fight to extend their season.
“Our practices have been very focused on executing plays and being efficient with the ball,” said Ryann Stutz (’20). “Our seniors have really been utilizing their leadership roles coming off of losses to Calvin and St. Mary’s, which will fuel the fire going into the tournament.”
Hopefully this fire continues throughout this week and leads the Flying Dutch to an excellent showing on Friday in the semi- finals of the MIAA Tournament. Good luck to Coach Schmidt and the Flying Dutch as they