posted July 30, 2011

2011 Pre-Season Volleyball Outlook

The Flying Dutch will be seeking to maintain the momentum of recent seasons that has placed Hope volleyball among the best in NCAA Division III.

 Coach Becky Schmidt's Flying Dutch will be bidding for a fourth consecutive Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) championship and trip to the NCAA tournament. A year ago Hope shared the conference title with rival Calvin. The teams split their regular season matches and Hope gained the MIAA's automatic berth in the NCAAs by defeating their rival in the conference tournament before more than 2,000 DeVos Fieldhouse fans. Calvin also received an NCAA bid and would go on to win the Division III national championship, but two of the Knights' four losses over the entire season would be to the Flying Dutch. Hope led all NCAA Division III teams in home attendance for the second straight year averaging over 800 fans per match at DeVos Fieldhouse.

Coach Schmidt begins her eighth season at the helm of the Flying Dutch. She enters the 2011 campaign ranked 25th among winningest active Division III coaches with a 10-year collegiate record of 220-89 (.712).

 Co-captains of the 2011 Flying Dutch will be junior Greer Bratschie of Grand Rapids (East Grand Rapids HS), senior Jackie Canonaco of Arlington Heights, Ill. (Prospect HS), and junior Courtney Earles of Kentwood (East Kentwood HS). Last season Bratschie from her setter position led the MIAA in average assists per set (11.65) and ranked 10th nationally over the entire season.(11.11). Sophomore Jessica Maier of Grandville (Jenison HS) was selected the team's most improved player and Jackie Canonoco was presented the team's outstanding contribution award.

 Jackie Canonaco and Lindy Melville of Grandville (Jenison) are the only seniors among the nine returning letterwinners. Other returning letterwinners include junior Nicole George of Hamilton (Hamilton HS), sophomore Rachel Kuiper of Byron Center (Byron Center HS), Jessica Maier, sophomore Mari Schoolmaster of Portage (Portage Central HS), and sophomore Caitlin Trompeter of Kalamazoo (Gull Lake HS).

 The regular season-ending conference tournament will have a new look with only the top four teams seeking to qualify for the NCAA championships.