Top-ranked Calvin sweeps to victory
Knights roll by No. 14 Hope, advance to regional final
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Top-ranked Calvin swept to victory against Hope (30-28, 25-15, 25-20) on Friday night as the Knights completed a four match season-sweep of its conference rival to earn a spot in the NCAA Regional final.
But though the Knights wrapped up the match in three sets, the victory was much tougher than a hasty glance at the box score might reveal.
Calvin opened the first set on a roll. Consecutive kills from Lizzie Kamp put the Knights on top 10-5 and forced a timeout from Hope head coach Becky Schmidt. But Hope would battle back as Jenna Grasmeyer delivered one of her eight first-set kills to cut Calvin’s lead to 15-13. Later the Dutch would tie the set 16-16. The teams would essentially trade points from there until a kill by Mari Schoolmaster drew set point for the Dutch at 24-23. Lizzie Kamp responded with a perfectly placed kill down the line. Hope would once again earn set point off a kill from Jessica Maier up the middle.
Once again, Lizzie Kamp was there for the Knights with a set-saving kill up the middle. Erin VanderPlas then put the Knights on top 26-25 from the outside, only to see Maier smash a set-tying kill for the Dutch. With the set tied at 27, Courney Earles hit a ball cross-court for a kill to pressure the Knights with what would amount to their fourth set point of the match. This time it was Rebecca Kamp’s turn to respond with a clutch kill, tying the set at 28. Megan Rietema and Rebecca Kamp then blocked an attack from Jenna Grasmeyer to give Calvin set point. An attack error from Mari Schoolmaster sealed the gut-wrenching set at 30-28 for the Knights.
But Hope wasn’t rattled by the first set’s dramatics.
The Flying Dutch opened a 4-1 lead in the second set, thank in large part to consecutive kills from Mari Schoolmaster. But Calvin would fight back to take a 9-8 lead and the Knights wouldn’t look back from there. Renee DeHaan, Rebecca Kamp and Julia Hilbrands all recorded kills and the Knights opened up a 17-11 lead before forcing a timeout from Schmidt. Rietema contributed an ace in the set’s late stages and Lizzie Kamp put a stamp on the set with a kill on set point. Calvin took the set by a score of 25-15.
The third set remained tight from the onset. Through 20 points, Calvin and Hope were tied at 10. Megan Rietema tipped on the second contact to give Calvin a two point lead and Rebecca Kamp followed that with a kill up the middle to put the Knights on top 14-11. But Hope came back to tie the score at 16-16 off a kill from Nicole George. Rebecca Kamp recorded another kill to bring the margin to 22-19 and Kristie Zietse concluded the match with an ace to give the Knights a 25-20 victory and seal their spot in the regional final.
“Our serve receive was strong today,” Calvin coach Amber Warners said. “The back row kept us clean and steady in our offensive system.”
DeHaan, who had six kills and hit .333 on the night, called the 2500 fans in the Van Noord Arena “an awesome support system.” Warners echoed her sentiment.
“It was an electric atmosphere. It’s also great to see the community come out to support women’s athletics,” she added.
Calvin will square off against Wittenberg for the regional final. The match will feature the fourth meeting between the two teams in the regional final in the last seven years.