Nov. 20, 2010


By Jim Faasen
Special to

The Calvin College Knights completed an impressive comeback Saturday at the Washington University Field house as part of the NCAA Division III volleyball national semifinals.

Down two sets to none, and with the score 16-8 in the third game, Calvin (31-4) rebounded to eliminate Juniata, 14-25, 17-25, 25-23, 25-22, 15-12.

Calvin will play the winner of the Washington University-Emory semifinal for the national title on Monday. The championship was originally scheduled for Sunday, but Calvin cannot play Sunday due to religious reasons, so the date was changed.

"I thought it was a very courageous effort," Calvin coach Amber Warners said. "I thought the players, literally, took it one point by one point. They showed a lot of heart tonight and I am really proud of the way they played."

Early on, it was all Juniata and, in the first set, Juniata's Drew Barnhart made all the difference.

With the score tied at five, she keyed a 9-0 run from the service line with three aces and she added five kills as the Eagles rolled to the 25-14 win.

The second set was more of the same, though the effort was spread more evenly. The Eagles used a late 6-0 run to pull away before winning, 25-17.

Barnhart added five more kills but a Steph Strauss service ace and a three-point run came from two Kristin Noetzel kills and a Noetzel/Kelsey Fuller block.

But in the third game, Calvin came back by scoring seven of the last nine points for the 25-23 win.

Erin Vander Plas and Rebecca Kamp each had three kills for the Knights but none were bigger than two of the last three points from Kamp that ended the game and completed the comeback to give the Knights the game.

"Erin is probably the heart and soul of our team," Warners said. "Probably the best thing about her is that she's got a short memory. She comes right back (after a bad point)."

The fourth game featured Calvin jumping out to a 5-0 lead only to have Juniata claw back to tie it at 10-10 on a Noetzel kill.

It wasn't until a Kamp tip that Calvin retook the lead at 18-17.

After that, the lead went back and forth until a Renee DeHaan kill ended the set at 25-22 Knights, tying the match.

Kamp had eight kill in the fourth game.

In the fifth game, Juniata (34-6) roared to a 4-1 lead after a Taylor Harpster service ace but, from there, it was all Calvin.

"I told the girls to lay it all out there," Warners said. "We knew (Juniata) wasn't going to just give it to us."

Calvin went ahead, 8-7, on a Barnhart service error and several points later, a Rebecca Kamp kill made it 14-9 before Juniata roared back to make it 14-12 on a Barnhart kill.

But Megan Rietema had a tip kill to finish off the three-game comeback, and give Calvin a 15-12 win.