The volleyball squad will be the first Hope fall sports team to action when the Flying Dutch host rival Kalamazoo for a league conference match on Wednesday, Sept. 1.

This year's Flying Dutch will be seeking to build on a strong tradition under new leadership. Becky Schmidt returns to her alma mater as head coach seeking to extend a school-record string of 10 consecutive winning seasons. Over the past decade the Flying Dutch have won 20 or more matches eight of 10 seasons, including a 21-13 mark in 2003.

An All-American player during her Hope volleyball career, Schmidt succeeds Maureen Duun who coached the Flying Dutch from 1997-03, compiling a 168-79 record. Schmidt has been the volleyball coach at Division III Redlands, Calif. the past three years.

The varsity roster includes nine returning letterwinners with two freshmen, five sophomores, four juniors and one senior.

The lone senior is Kelley Hutchins of Livonia, Mich. Other returning letterwinners include sophomore Kim Brandes of Hillsdale, Mich. (Hillsdale HS), junior Shawna Buche of Saranac, Mich. (Lakewood HS), sophomore Amber Hoezee of Jenison, Mich. (Jenison HS), junior Natalie Hoogeveen of Orange City, Iowa (Maurice HS), sophomore Brynn Ray of Fruitport, Mich. (Fruitport HS), junior Lindsay Schaap of Holland, Mich. (Holland HS), sophomore Deena VanAssen of Jenison, Mich. (Jenison HS), and junior Julie VanderSlice of New Era, Mich. (Shelby HS).

Hutchins and Buche will be co-captains of the team. For the past two seasons Hutchins voted the team's best team player. Buche and Natalie Hoogeveen shared the honor as the team's best defensive player in 2003. Buche set several team records for digs, including the mark for the most average digs per conference game (4.55).

New to the varsity are sophomore Stephanie Poll of Hamilton, Mich. (Hamilton HS), freshman Marianne Hinken of Grand Rapids, Mich. (Calvin Christian HS), and freshman Jennifer Ivanhoff of Flushing, Mich. (Flushing HS).

An expanded league schedule will cause the Flying Dutch to begin their season with back-to-back home matches against rival Kalamazoo (Sept. 1) and new league member Tri-State (Sept. 8). The Flying Dutch will also compete in four invitationals.