Nov. 13, 2009

Fresh off of an MIAA Tournament championship featuring a win over rival Hope in the championship match, the 11th ranked Calvin Knights put their season on the line against the #10 Wittenberg Tigers, a team Calvin fell to in five sets at the Border Battle early in the season. In Thursday night's meeting, Calvin came out on top, beating Wittenberg in three straight sets, 25-23, 25-22, 25-21.

This match was one of runs. In the first set, Wittenberg took the early lead 12-8 with a five point run which included two long rallies eventually ending in kills for the Tigers. Calvin responded with a six point run of its own and led 16-15. The teams traded side outs, until Calvin won consecutive points and took the lead 21-18, which turned out to be a recurring theme. The Tigers battled back to tie it at 22, but the Knights remained calm and won the first set with kills from Rebecca and Lizzie Kamp, both of which were named to the all-region team earlier today. Calvin won the first set despite being out hit with Wittenberg recording a .303 kill percentage to Calvin's .233.

The second and third sets were much of the same story. Calvin again took a 20-17 lead, a feat it would accomplish in all three sets. Each team would follow up with side outs, but Calvin always led. The second set was finished off by a kill from freshmen Lizzie Kamp, while the match ended with a kill from Renee DeHaan.

Based on statistics, the game was a draw. Both teams ended up with 45 kills. Calvin was led by Rebecca Kamp, who was not 100 percent and played outside hitter, had 14 kills. Erin VanderPlas had 10 kills, while Lizzie Kamp had 9. The Tigers were led by Katie Sumner with 10 kills, Kimmie Dyer with 9, Christine Simpson with 8, and Amy Cox with 7 kills. Wittenberg had one more assists than Calvin holding a 42-41 advantage. Both teams played well defensively, with Calvin recording 26 digs to Wittenberg's 44. The Knights had 6 total team blocks while the Tigers had 5.5. What won it for Calvin was kill percentage. Calvin totaled a .321 kill percentage including a .500 clip in the third and final set. Wittenberg was not too far off with a .259 average, but it was not enough to overcome Calvin.

After the game, Coach Amber Warners was asked what challenges Wittenberg posed to the Knights. "They had great right side hitting tonight. Their lefties are tough to handle. They had a couple of key blocks on the right side during the second and third sets." Rebecca Kamp was asked what she thought about the game. "It was nice to play in a familiar place. It would have been a lot more difficult if we had to travel to Wisconsin or Ohio. It feels like our home court because we have played here so much this year. It is nice to warm-up in a familiar locker room."

Calvin is riding a wave of momentum after defeating rival Hope and Wittenberg, both teams they had lost to earlier in the year. "Our team is coming together as a unit at the right time. Our chemistry has always been there, but now we figured out how to bring on the court each and every night, " Kamp said.

Calvin improves its record to 28-6 on the season with the win over Wittenberg, who Calvin is now 2-2 against in the national tournament. Calvin will play Hope College, who defeated Lakeland (WI) 25-17, 25-16, 25-17, at 7:00 at DeVos Fieldhouse. It will be the fourth matchup between the rivals this year, with Hope holding a 2-1 advantage. Calvin did, however, defeat the Dutch in the most recent meeting in four sets. The winner of that semifinal will play the winner of Ohio Northern (OH) and North Central (IL).

Making its 19th overall appearance in the NCAA III Tournament, Calvin is now 20-20 all-time in NCAA III Tournament play.