Hope volleyball player Jayne Kessel, right, stands with Jan Gentry of the NCAA after receiving her Elite 89 Award on Wednesday during the NCAA Division III Women's Volleyball Championship banquet. Tom Renner/Hope Public Relations

Hope volleyball player Jayne Kessel has become the college’s second recipient of the Elite 89 award from the NCAA.

The libero from Byron Center (Grand Rapids South Christian HS) was announced winner of the prestigious award Wednesday night during the NCAA Division III Women’s Volleyball Championship banquet at the Haworth Inn & Conference Center.

The Elite 89, an award founded by the NCAA, recognizes the true essence of the student-athlete by honoring the individual who has reached the pinnacle of competition at the national championship level in his or her sport, while also achieving the highest academic standard among his or her peers. The Elite 89 is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA’s 89 championships.

All GPAs are based on a straight grading scale to ensure consistency among institutions.

Kessel joins women’s swimmer Chelsea Wiese (2012) as Elite 89 winners at Hope.

Kessel carries a 4.0 grade point average while pursuing her interest in a pre-dental program. She is majoring in chemistry and minoring in Spanish. She has completed enough credits to be considered a junior academically, even though she is still a sophomore with her athletic eligibility.

Kessel, who wants to be become an orthodontist, is grateful for the support she receives on and off the court at Hope.

“The Elite 89 is a cool recognition of our whole team, and how we’re working hard in the classroom,” Kessel said. “I like it here how we’re student-athletes, and it’s not just about what we do on the court. When I’m in the classroom, that’s my focus. When I get to the volleyball court, my mind is there.”

Hope coach Becky Schmidt said Kessel is a hard-working and dedicated student-athlete.

“Despite all the things it takes and the time she spends in the organic chemistry lab and with her head in the book, she’s always at practice early asking for more reps,” Schmidt said. “I think that is an unbelievable sign of her character, that she knows her academics require that much of her, but she can also find the time to spend extra time to practice.”

Kessel and her teammates begin their pursuit of a NCAA Division III national championship on Thursday during the national quarterfinals at DeVos Fieldhouse. Hope (32-2) plays Wisconsin-Stevens Point (34-4) at 8 p.m.