The Hope College volleyball team faces a rebuilding challenge in an attempt to return to the top of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) standings.

In 2002 the Flying Dutch slipped to fourth place in the conference standings after having finished first or second each of the previous seven seasons and reigning as co-champions in 2001.

The season opens with a tournament hosted by Elmhurst College on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 29-30. Joining Hope in the eight-team field will feature several regionally and nationally ranked programs -- host Elmhurst, Illinois Wesleyan, Simpson, Iowa, Wartburg, Iowa, Washington, Mo., Wilmington, Ohio, Wisc.-Oshkosh and Wisc.-Stevens Point.

The season-opening tournament will be the only test before the Dutch launch MIAA conference action on Wednesday, Sept. 3 at rival Calvin.

Coach Maureen Dunn begins her seventh season at the helm of the Dutch. Her teams have posted an outstanding 147-66 mark, including 66-12 against conference opponents. The Flying Dutch posted a 17-14 mark in 2002. A prelude to this year's season was the team's first international experience in August to Switzerland in August.

The pre-season roster of 14 varsity players and nine jayvees includes seven returning letterwinners. The roster includes three seniors, one junior, seven sophomores and 12 freshmen.

The returning letterwinners include senior Anna Eriks of Holland, Mich. (West Ottawa HS), senior Katie Hall of Holland, Mich. (West Ottawa HS), sophomore Sara Homakie of Cass City, Mich. (Cass City HS), junior Kelley Hutchins of Livonia, Mich. (Livonia Stevenson HS), sophomore Lindsay Schaap of Holland, Mich. (Holland HS), senior McKenna Troyan of Sylvania, Ohio (Northview HS), and sophomore Julie VanderSlice of New Era, Mich. (Shelby HS).

Kelley Hutchins was honored in 2002 as the best team player while Sara Homakie was recognized as the most improved player. The team's setter, Troyan holds the Hope single season record for attack percentage and assists per game. Katie Hall holds the Hope mark for aces served in a three-game match. The Flying Dutch will open their season at an August 29-30 tournament hosted by Elmhurst, Ill. College. The home debut will be Saturday, Sept. 6 against Tri-State, Ind. and Cornerstone. A second tournament on Sept. 26-27 at Wittenberg, Ohio will also feature several ranked teams.