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Kelly Hill | NCAA.com | November 21, 2013

Calvin coach knows rivalry from both sides

Amber Warners

HOLLAND, Mich. -- Amber Warners once looked for a job at Hope. When one was not available she looked to Calvin.

Now Warners is the head coach at Calvin and her No. 1-ranked Knights are playing for the national championship this weekend at Hope College’s DeVos Fieldhouse. They took one step closer to that goal Thursday afternoon when they beat UMass-Boston 3-1 in the quarterfinals.

Warners grew up not far from Hope, where her father, Harvey Blankespoor, taught biology and her brother, Curt, played four seasons of varsity soccer. After graduating from nearby Holland Christian High School, Warners decided to attend and play volleyball at Calvin, located approximately 30 miles northeast of Hope. As a freshman setter in 1986, Warners played in the national championship match which the Knights dropped to UC-San Diego 3-2, after being up 2-0.

“I still haven’t watched the video of that one,” Warners was quick to note.

On the 24th anniversary of that loss, Warner coached Calvin to the 2010 national championship.

Her Knights could have faced their Hope rivals Saturday night for the national championship; the No. 2-ranked Flying Dutch were on the other half of the bracket in this national championship. However, Wisconsin-Stevens Point defeated Hope 3-0 on Thursday night.

“It’s a unique situation when we come to the DeVos Fieldhouse because I see people from my childhood,” Warners said Thursday. “They come to the match, whether to see great volleyball or to say, ‘Hi,’ to me, and it floods back a lot of memories.”

After graduating from Calvin, Warners taught and coached at Holland Christian and, as an interim coach, led the 1994 Hope squad to a 21-11 record.

“For a long time I was really a Hope fan,” Warners said. “I coached here for one year and it’s a really good place. While there is no one I would rather beat, I also realize it is a really solid place with great, Christian people. I really respect what [Hope head coach] Becky [Schmidt] has done and this whole institution for what they stand for.

“I know that if I had decided to go here or would have been coaching here, and I did coach here, it would have been a nice place to be and to be part of that community.”

Warners also coached softball for eight seasons at Calvin College and her softball and volleyball coaching overlapped for three years.

“I think I’m busy now, but that third year they overlapped I was studying for compositions for my PhD, I was having my third child and my husband was taking three classes that fall for his masters."

Warners and her Knights are scheduled to play Emory in semifinal action at 5 p.m. ET Friday.