With a strong core of returning players, the 2008 Flying Dutch will be seeking to maintain the momentum of a string of successful seasons.
In four seasons under coach Becky Schmidt, the Flying Dutch have averaged 24 victories a year. The 2007 Fltying Dutch posted a 24-9 record, finishing second in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA).
The 2008 team will be built around nine returning letterwinners, including five starters from a year ago. The pre-season roster includes 15 freshman prospects, nine sophomores, three juniors and three seniors.
Co-captains of the team are junior Andrea Helminiak of Maumee, Ohio (Anthony Wayne HS) and senior Nora Slenk of Holland, Mich. (Holland Christian HS).
Last season Slenk was voted to the All-MIAA first team while Helminiak received second team honors. The team's setter, Helminiak was twice named the MIAA specialty player of the week. She ranked second in the MIAA in assists, averaging 12.76 assists per game. She also ranked among the nation's Division III leaders (38th at 11.58 assists per game overall). Slenk was honored as an MIAA player of the week.
Sophomore Kara Vande Guchte of Hamilton, Mich. (Hamilton HS) had an outstanding first collegiate season. She was chosen the MIAA's freshman player of the year and received All-MIAA second team honors. She led the MIAA in hitting percentage. Vande Guchte also received All-MIAA honors in track & field as an outstanding sprinter/hurdler.
Other returning letterwinners include junior Teresa Borst of Zeeland, Mich. (Zeeland East HS), sophomore Cassidy Bulthuis of Nunica, Mich. (Spring Lake HS), sophomore Sara DeWeerdt of Holland, Mich. (Hamilton HS), junior Kristen Johnson of Naperville, Ill. (Wheaton Academy), sophomore Kayla Rugenstein of Grand Rapids, Mich. (Grand Rapids Christian HS), and senior Megan Winer of Ada, Mich. (Forest Hills Central HS).
The 2007 Flying Dutch ranked among the nation's Division III in several team statistical categories - assists per game (12.99), hitting percentage (.232) and kills per game (15.15).
The NCAA has adopted three rule changes for the 2008 season - the term "game" will be replaced with "set," all but fifth sets (which go to 15 points or until a team leads by two points after a tie at 14-all) will be trimmed from 30 points to 25, and the number of rotations per set will be dropped from 15 to 12.
Four returning players were named to the 2007-08 MIAA Academic Honor Roll - Sara DeWeerdt, Nora Slenk, Kara Vande Guchte and Megan Winer.