HOLLAND, Mich. -- Kristen Zietse and Kylie McLogan both stand 5-foot-9. That fact may not seem particularly significant, but it demonstrates the significant contrast between the two teams that will battle Saturday night for the NCAA III national championship.
Zietse is the libero for Calvin, while McLogan is the leading hitter for Cal Lutheran. The Knights (34-1) and Regals (35-1) are scheduled to play for the national title at 7 p.m. ET at DeVos Fieldhouse on the campus of Hope.
A libero tends to be one of a team’s smaller players, while a hitter tends to be one of the taller. Calvin’s roster features two hitters and a setter who stand 6-foot-2, while freshman middle blocker Sarah Pappas, who is 6-foot-0, is Cal Lutheran’s tallest player.
“They are totally different than us,” Calvin coach Amber Warners said of the Regals. “They are going to be quicker. At this level you face teams that are highly successful and we all kind of do it our own way. That is something we are going to have to address and change our game plan a little bit and be a little bit flexible.”
Calvin, with a loss only to Hope this season, advanced to Saturday’s championship match by defeating Emory 3-0 in semifinal action Friday evening. Cal Lutheran, who lost only to Westmont in its seventh match of the season, defeated Wisconsin-Stevens Point 3-0 in Friday night’s semifinals.
While Cal Lutheran’s following includes a few parents and friends who made the trip to Michigan, the Calvin campus is located in Grand Rapids, approximately 30 miles northeast of DeVos Fieldhouse. “I know there’s going to be a great crowd and we can’t wait for that,” CLU coach Kellee Roesel said. “We like that,” echoed Regals setter Jackie Russell. “We like to shut people up. It gives us extra motivation and our coach is always all about that stuff. We’re so happy to be here. We’re excited about it.”
Calvin, who won the 2010 national championship, is making its second consecutive trip to the national championship match. The Knights led St. Thomas (Minn.) 2-0 last year before falling 3-2. “That’s in the back of our minds because it was hard to be so close,” Calvin senior setter Megan Rietema said. “This is a new team though, with new girls and new dreams.”
Cal Lutheran is looking for its first NCAA team title. “They’re tall, but that’s what we’ve faced all year,” Roesel said. “I love shorter, athletic kids who get after it. They’ve been there before, multiple times and they have the player of the year [Rietema] too, so it’s a really, really great program.
“You are going to see two different styles of volleyball and I’m excited to see that,” Roesel said. “We’re two totally different teams. I’m excited to see SoCal against the Midwest. It should be fun. It’s the national championship match. It’s going to be a great match and we’re going to be ready.”