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Championship feeling sinks in for Knights' Iibero
By Lynn Rosendale

kelly petersonFor Kelly Peterson her college experience has been about community: “I did a Fridays (at Calvin) visit and that really was the deciding factor,” she said. “The people that I met here were genuine; I felt a real sense of community.”

That feeling has only solidified three years into her collegiate career, particularly because of her affiliation with the Knights volleyball team. “Coming in I had the mindset that I just wanted to do the sport—just play volleyball. I didn’t realize how much my teammates would affect me. Now I know the team dynamic of having community that you don’t even realize your freshman year.

“Now, I’m doing the sport because I like to hang out with these people, including our coach,” she said. “I had this perception of college coaches being detached from the team—just running practices and games. Our coach serves as a friend and a mentor and a mom.”

Coming from Ramsey, Minn., where she had never heard of Calvin before it popped up on an internet search, Peterson is happy to feel such a connection to it now.

The starting libero for the past two years, Peterson is still letting the national championship feeling sink in—a part of the whole experience that she had never really thought possible. “I definitely think we’re peaking at the right time,” she said, prior to the national tournament run. “We have the capability to beat anybody at any time.”

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Those words would prove to be prophetic as the Knights would go on to defeat the top three ranked teams in the national title run, including a come from behind victory over Juniata College (Huntingdon, Pa.).

“We pushed harder and fought with more heart than any team I’ve ever been on or ever seen,” said Peterson. “I am still so impressed that we won that match, not surprised though, because I knew we had that much heart from the beginning of the season.” Peterson contributed 17 digs in the winning effort in that match.

Peterson followed up that performance with 16 digs and three aces in the national championship match against Emory University (Atlanta, Ga.).“She goes about her job on the court with very little fanfare and reads the hitters on the other side very well,” said coach Amber Warners. “For having to cover the entire back line, she is almost always in the exact position where the other teams’ hitters end up hitting the ball.”

Peterson said that her team is always grateful: “Our team is really good at recognizing how hard defensive specialists work, and I have to give them credit for the block. That makes my job a lot easier.”

For Peterson, a biology major who hopes to work in conservation, Calvin was the perfect fit on and off the court. “I’ve always been interested in studying creation. Calvin is a great place for that; I didn’t realize how much I would like being able to talk with professors about my faith,” she said.

This spring, Peterson will compete for the Knights on the track in the triple jump, long jump and sprints. First, though, she has the winter to relish in the national championship.

“Winning the finals was unbelievable,” she said. “I couldn’t feel anything right after the match; I was still in game mode and honestly wanted to keep playing. But that’s how it’s been the entire season with this team. The camaraderie that we have built is so strong that by the end of the season and especially throughout that last match, you could feel what every person was thinking during every point of those games—you just knew. The connection you have with each teammate is amazing. Everyone could feel that there was no way that we were going to lose. I don’t necessarily remember the points we played during those games, but I remember the feeling, and I don’t think it’s going away anytime soon. It took awhile for it to sink in, and every time I think about it, it seems to sink in again. We did it, we actually did it.”