by Alan Babbitt
A determined and skilled opponent dashed dreams of a winning start to the NCAA Division III Tournament for the Hope College volleyball team.
DePauw University (Indiana) outlasted the 17th-ranked Flying Dutch in five sets Thursday during the regional opener at Calvin College, winning 25-18, 23-25, 21-25, 25-23, 15-9.
"A lot of credit to DePauw," head coach Becky Schmidt said. "I thought they made some really good adjustments in terms of creating more offensive opportunities for themselves. I thought they really stepped up their passing as the match continued. They just ended up being able to find ways to the ball down in our court than we were able to do in theirs.
DePauw advanced to the Friday, November 9 regional semifinal against No. 3-ranked Wittenberg University (Ohio). Wittenberg beat Carthage College (Wisconsin) in three sets on Thursday.
Hope finished the season with a 25-8 overall record.
"I am very proud of our team," Schmidt added as she was joined in the post-match press conference by seniors Grace Ditzenberger, Emma DuMez, Emily Farwell, Vanessa Reynhout, and Katie Rietberg. "I am very proud of this group of seniors and everything they have given to our program the past four years and the type of leaders, and women, they've been."
Rietberg, an outside hitter from Holland, Michigan (West Ottawa HS), shared team-high honors for kills (12) with freshman middle hitter McKenna Otto of Wheaton, Illinois (Wheaton North).
Reynhout, a middle hitter from Freeport, Michigan (Lakewood), added nine kills.
Ditzenberger, a middle hitter from Centennial, Colorado (Chaparral), added 11 blocks and five kills. She was one behind her career-high for blocks.
DePauw (18-10 overall) totaled 12 more kills and 26 more digs than the Flying Dutch.
The Tigers strung together five consecutive points in the fifth set for a 12-7 lead. There were six lead changes and six ties the scores to start the final set.
DePauw finished with three outside hitters with double-digit kills: Morgan Stearley with 18, Suzanne Peters with 17, and Liv Hartman with 15.