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Small town setter makes it big at Calvin
By Lynn Bolt Rosendale

Going to a college that has a bigger population than your hometown can be quite an experience. Just ask Sara Ahrenholz who came to Calvin from Prinsburg, Minnesota, a small town with a population of about 500 people.

"I was encouraged to play volleyball coming in to meet some people," she said. "It was a little intimidating though."

Despite being the conference Most Valuable Player at Central Minnesota Christian High School, Ahrenholz was unsure of what to expect at Calvin.

"I wasn't really sure about playing here," said the 5-foot, 5-inch setter. "The coaches hadn't seen me play and I didn't know that much about how Calvin played."

It didn't take long for Ahrenholz to establish herself as a premier setter at the college level, however. As a sophomore, she set the NCAA Division III record for most assists in a match with 94 in a four-game victory over Case Western Reserve and also set the school's single-season assist record that year with 1,625.

For three consecutive years Ahrenholz has been named to the All-MIAA first team. Her setting skills helped lead the Knights to a conference championship in 1999 and NCAA Division III tournament berths in 1999 and again this fall.

"She was a quality player when she came into the program" said Coach Jerry Bergsma. "Then she made some good adjustments and worked hard to earn a varsity position. What is really impressive about Sara is wise decisions that she makes. She gets the ball to the right people at the right time."
Ahrenholz, in fact, believes that her success is due to playing with the "right" people.

"I didn't do any of this myself," she said. "It all depends on my teammates. They have to pass the ball to me and they're the ones who hit it."

A key goal for Ahrenholz this year was to help her teammates play to the best of their ability, she said. "I had more confidence in my ability this year which I hope I used to help my teammates. I also think I was more of a vocal leader this year."

The highlight of the season for Ahrenholz this year was winning the MIAA tournament to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournament.

"That was the most fun I had all year," she said. "We played really well throughout the tournament and we had the confidence to know that we could do it."

The Knights were defeated in the first round of the tournament, but Ahrenholz was grateful for the opportunity to play. "I can't imagine what my experience at Calvin would have been like without playing volleyball," she said. "I had so much fun building relationships with my teammates over the last few years. It's been great."

Ahrenholz positive attitude and intensity will be missed on the court next year, said Bergsma. "It's something that we won't realize until we start up in the fall again," he said. "We've taken for granted the last few years all of the plays that Sara made look routine. Her experience, her decision making, her optimistic attitude will all be difficult to replace."

Ahrenholz is unsure of where her life will lead after she graduates this spring. She is pursuing a career in accounting. A three-time member of the MIAA Academic Honor Roll and a regular member of the Calvin Dean's List, Ahrenholz was named to the Verizon Academic All-District IV third team this fall.

Calvin Volleyball

Juniors Lead Calvin Volleyball
Chimes profiles Cassie Christopher and Melissa Pell

Volleyball wins league tourney

Ahrenholz leads Knights
Chimes, Oct. 26


MIAA Volleyball

 

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