NEWPORT NEWS, Va. -- For the third consecutive year and for the seventh time in school history, the Calvin women's volleyball team is headed to the national semifinals of the NCAA III Tournament.
The Knights advanced to the semis with a 25-21, 25-15, 22-25, 25-16 victory against host Christopher Newport Friday night inside Christopher Newport's Freeman Center.
Calvin (31-3) will face rival Hope (32-2) in the national semifinals Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. at the Freeman Center. The winner of the match will play in the national championship final Monday afternoon at 1 p.m. Hope defeated Clarkson 25-16, 25-21, 25-20 in an earlier quarterfinal match Friday night.Saturday's semifinal will mark the fourth meeting of the season between Calvin and Hope including the fifth in NCAA III Tournament play. However, it is just the second time the two teams will have met on a neutral floor in the NCAA III Tournament and the first time they will have met past the regional round of play.
Calvin's match against Christopher Newport was played in front of a boisterous home crowd of 1,873 fans who made the Freeman Center a deafening environment throughout most of the contest.
Calvin took the home crowd out of the match momentarily by claiming the first set 25-21 after trailing 3-0 early that forced a Calvin timeout.
Calvin later tied the set at 14 and then used a 4-0 run to take control of the opening set.
"They came after us with some really tough serves in that first set," said Calvin head coach Amber Warners. "It could have been easy to feel like we were in trouble but we didn't do that. We knew it would be a long match and hard-fought. We just had to keep fighting and I think we did that."
In set two, Calvin hit .619 and used six service errors by Christopher Newport (34-4) to roll to the win.
The Captains reversed the momentum in set three, vaulting out to an 18-13 lead and then holding off Calvin after the Knights closed to within 21-20. Calvin committed six service errors in set three.
Christopher Newport kept the momentum going early in set four, taking a 5-2 lead but back-to-back kills by senior Ellie Diepersloot allowed the Knights to take a 6-5 lead.
After Christopher Newport tied the match 11-11, Calvin went on a 5-1 run to take a 16-12 lead. A service ace by freshman setter Jenna Lodewyk gave Calvin a 19-13 lead and the insurmountable momentum. Diespersloot closed out the match with a kill off a feed from Lodewyk to send the Knights on.
Both teams were aggressive with their service as each squad had seven service aces and 15 service errors.
"I thought it was a great atmosphere and very loud," said Warners. "We were pushed very hard and tensions were high on both sides which showed with the amount of service errors tonight. That is the type of thing that will happen at this level of the tournament."
As a team, Calvin hit .383. Junior Maggie Kamp had a match-high 17 kills to go with five service aces and eight digs. Sophomore Laura Danhoff hit at a .412 clip and collected nine kills while Diepersloot had nine kills and a .474 hitting percentage. Senior Stacey Kamp contributed five kills and a .444 hitting percentage. Junior Emily Crowe had seven kills and a big solo block late in set four. Lodewyk tallied 38 assists, six kills and a hitting percentage of .667 while senior Elise Biesboer came up with 15 digs.
"This was just a very good all-around team performance," said Warners. "I think one of the hallmarks of our team has been the ability of other players to step up. When teams focus on Maggie [Kamp] or Laura [Danhoff] other players have stepped up offensively. I think our back row tonight was also very strong. Our players back there sometimes get overlooked but tonight our back row was very good."
Christopher Newport was led in defeat by Hannah Miller with 10 kills. Briana Sutton had nine kills and four service aces while setter Rachel Conway had 28 assists.