Grit and Gratitude

Finishing national runner-up in record-setting fashion is no small feat, but it’s having made the journey together that stands out most for the members of the Hope College volleyball team.

In a season filled with gratitude and togetherness, the Hope College volleyball team accomplished so much as one tight-knit group.

Led by American Volleyball Coaches Association Co-National Player of the Year Addie VanderWeide, the Flying Dutch posted a remarkable NCAA championships run that included a national runner-up finish and a Division III-record four consecutive five-set victories.

Hope finished with a 32-3 overall, tied for the third-most wins in a single season. The Flying Dutch also served up NCAA regional and MIAA titles.

Hope, which won MIAA regular-season and tournament championships for the second time in program history, made head coach Becky Schmidt ’99 happy on and off the court.

“I am super proud of our team and thankful for the opportunity I had to be a part of this group because it’s a group that’s just special,” Schmidt said. “They make each other better. They make me better. I’m very thankful for the season that we had and the ways their relationships are going to continue beyond this match.”

The Flying Dutch lost to defending national champion Juniata College (Pennsylvania) in the Division III championship match on December 2 at Roberts Pavilion in Claremont, California. The NCAA Championships were hosted by Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.

It was Hope’s second-highest finish at the NCAA Championships. The Flying Dutch won an NCAA title in 2014.

Addie Vander Weide

During the tournament, VanderWeide, a junior outside hitter, was named Hope’s first AVCA National Player of the Year by sharing the honor with Juniata setter Olivia Foley. VanderWeide made the AVCA All-America First Team. Two teammates joined VanderWeide in receiving All-America honors: sophomore setter Lauren Lee (second team) and junior middle blocker Alison DeWeerd.

Hope reached the national championship match in a memorable fashion.

The Flying Dutch went the distance in four consecutive matches over a span of 15 days. In California, Hope outlasted No. 8 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in the national semifinals on November 30 and No. 9 in Johns Hopkins University (Maryland) in the national quarterfinals on November 29.

A week before Thanksgiving, the Flying Dutch won the regional they hosted at DeVos Fieldhouse by winning three times in three days, including five-set victories against No. 17 Transylvania University (Kentucky) in the final and No. 23 University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in the semifinals.

No other Division III program had won more than three five-set postseason matches in a row previously. Libero Olivia Fiebing, Hope’s lone senior, and DeWeerd said the Flying Dutch had the right mindset for success.

“We already have everything we could ask for, national championship game or not. I think that’s pretty cool,” Fiebing said after the semifinal victory. “I think that allows us to enter this moment with gratitude and freedom.”

After the quarterfinal victory, DeWeerd said, “We reset our minds. We start with a prayer [then] we say won two, lost two, there’s got to be a change that happens. I think we all knew that and were ready to make that change. From there on out, it was play with less aggression and more love. So much pent-up energy is coming through the four sets, the fifth set it’s going to change. We were able to make that change and play with joy and fun.”

Please see page 45 for an overview of the fall season for all of the college’s teams, and visit Hope online for additional coverage — including galleries of images from the volleyball championships.