GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Calvin secured a 23-25, 25-18, 23-25, 26-24, 15-12 victory against Wittenberg in front of more than 1,700 fans inside Calvin’s Van Noord Arena. The victory gives Calvin a berth in the national quarterfinals next Thursday in Holland, Mich. Calvin will be making its second trip to the national finals in the last three years.
Saturday’s match between Calvin and Wittenberg marked the fifth meeting between the two non-conference rivals in a regional final, for the third consecutive year. In 2010, Calvin defeated the Tigers in four sets in Springfield, Ohio. In 2011, Wittenberg returned the favor, defeating the Knights in four sets in Grand Rapids.
Wittenberg was the verge of victory as it led 22-21 in set four. Calvin regained the lead 24-23 and then 25-24 and closed out the match with a kill by sophomore Emily Crowe.
In the fifth set, Calvin used a three-point run to build a 9-6 lead and then went up 12-8 and 13-10. Wittenberg clawed back with back-to-back points, forcing Calvin to call timeout with the score 13-12. Freshman Maggie Kamp then delivered for the Knights with a kill. On the subsequent point, a Wittenberg attacker sent a ball out-of-bounds, allowing the Knights to claim the win.
“I thought we came out ready to play [Saturday],” Calvin coach Amber Warners said. “We knew that we would have a fight on our hands. Early on I think we made a few too many unforced errors, but I thought that if we could hold on in set four, that we would have a good chance in set five.”
Calvin is now 4-1 in five-set matches this year and 7-2 against nationally-ranked opponents.
“I thought this was a really epic game between two highly-ranked opponents,” Wittenberg head coach Paco Labrador said. “I give all of the credit to Calvin for putting together a good game plan against us and having the kind of players that can take over a game. That’s something that every team that faces Calvin will have to figure out – a way to face their big hitters and big blockers.”
Calvin hit .251 as a team led by senior Lizzie Kamp, who had 24 kills and 15 digs. Junior setter Megan Rietema was also sensational with a triple-double as she tallied 13 kills, 15 digs and 51 assists to go with six blocks. Freshman Maggie Kamp was also strong with 14 kills while senior Rebecca Ratkov had 10 kills. Crowe recorded 10 blocks and seven kills. Seniors Jen Pluymert and Kelly Gordon had 20 and 18 digs, respectively, while junior Kristen Zietse had 12 digs.
Wittenberg was led by Andrea Behling with 16 kills, while Kara Seidenstricker had 15 kills and Jessica Batanian had 14 kills. Setter Hallie Donathan had 25 assists and libero Christine Gilene a match-high 32 digs.