2009 Calvin Women’s Volleyball Preview
Saturday, August 08, 2009
The challenge surrounding the 2008 Calvin team was to find a way to replace the graduation of three All-Americans. After producing a 26-5 campaign in 2008 that included a fifth straight trip to the NCAA III Tournament, the challenge surrounding the 2009 Calvin squad is to simply keep the momentum rolling.
The Knights return four starters and 11 letterwinners from last year’s team which finished second in the MIAA standings with a 14-2 conference record. The most notable returning letterwinners are seniors Kelsey Sears (Traverse City/Traverse City West HS) and Sara Kramer (Dyer, IN/Illina Christian HS) and sophomore Rebecca Kamp (Orland Park, IL/Chicago Christian HS.
Calvin’s starter at libero in 2008 and a three-year member of the Calvin varsity, Sears was named the MIAA’s Defensive Player of the Year last fall after leading the conference in digs-per-set and finishing 48th nationally (5.22) in that same category. Sears was also named to the All-MIAA first team and received AVCA Great Lakes Region Honorable Mention accolades. She also received MIAA Specialty Player of the Week accolades once.
A 5-11 middle-hitter, Kramer was named to the All-MIAA second team and picked up MIAA Player of the Week honors once during the 2008 season after averaging 1.87 kills-per-set and an attack percentage of .233. Like Sears, Kramer has also been a three-year member of the Calvin varsity.
The most decorated of Calvin’s returning players is 6-1 middle-hitter Rebecca Kamp who has done so in only year of collegiate competition. As a freshman last fall, Kamp was named the AVCA’s National Freshman of the Year, the Great Lakes Regional Freshman of the Year and the MIAA’s Freshman of the Year. She was also named an AVCA First Team All-American, a member of the Great Lakes All-Region team and a member of the All-MIAA first team. In addition, she was named the MIAA’s Most Valuable Player, was a two-time AVCA Division III National Player of the Week and two-time MIAA Player of the Week selection.
Kamp received the raft of awards after posting an attack percentage of .400 and a kills-per-set average of 4.87 that led the nation. Kamp’s attack percentage ranked third in the final NCAA III statistics. Kamp collected a Calvin single-season record of 106 solo blocks. Her season average of 1.27 blocks-per-set ranked 18th nationally. Her attack percentage and kills-per-set average were also Calvin single-season marks.
Other returning letterwinners include seniors Rachel DeYoung (Hudsonville/Unity Christian HS), Nora Bruskewitz (Mequon, WI/Milwaukee-Lutheran HS) and Katie Corbett (St. Joseph/Stevensville-Lakeshore HS), juniors Carolyn Nelson (Milan/Milan HS) and Kim Wigboldy (Chandler, AZ/Chandler Valley Christian HS) and sophomores Erin VanderPlas (Cadillac/McBain Christian HS), Rene DeHaan (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS) and Kelly Peterson (Ramsey, MN/Anoka HS). Also returning is 6-1 junior middle-hitter Kayla Hollenbeck (Hudsonville/Hudsonville HS) who sat out the 2008 season with an injury.
DeYoung and VanderPlas both started on the outside last year with DeYoung averaging 1.77 kills and VanderPlas 2.07 kills-per-set. Corbett and Peterson both saw significant time in the back row as defensive specialists with Corbett contributing 286 digs that ranked second on the team while Peterson had 185 digs to rank fifth on the team.
Wigboldy saw time on the outside while DeHaan came off the bench as a middle-hitter. Wigboldy played a key role in a five-set mid-October victory at Hope in front of an NCAA III record crowd of more than 2,000 fans.
Nelson and Bruskewitz will try to fill the most critical role on the team at the setter position. Both individuals saw some starting time in 2008 with Nelson contributing 5.73 assists-per-set and Bruskewitz 3.45 assists-per-set. According to Warners, sophomore setter Bree Breuker (Hamilton/Hamilton HS) could also factor in the setting equation. Breuker served as the setter on the 2008 Calvin junior varsity team.
“I like our group of returning players,” said Calvin head coach Amber Warners who was named the 2008 Division III Great Lakes Regional Coach of the Year by the American Volleyball Coaches Association. “I don’t think it’s any secret that Rebecca Kamp was and will continue to be a big part of what we do on offense and up front at the net. I think there are two big keys for our team this year. The first key is to solidify our setter’s spot and I think we have a couple of upperclassmen that are capable of doing that. The second key is for individuals to step up around Rebecca on a consistent basis to provide more offensive threats. The more threats we have on offense, the tougher it will be for teams to defense us. It’s as simple as that.”
A handful of players from Calvin’s 2008 junior varsity team will also attempt to crack the 2009 Calvin varsity roster as will a number of individuals from a talented incoming freshmen class. One of the incoming freshmen is 6-1 hitter Lizzie Kamp, the younger sister of Rebecca Kamp.
“We have some talented incoming freshmen that will push our returning players,” said Warners. “There are several positions on our team that are up for grabs so I expect that the competition in our pre-season practices will be very high. I like healthy competition. It only makes a team better.”
Calvin will once again face a challenging non-conference schedule. The Knights will again open the year at the Ohio Northern Invitational and will face nationally-ranked Ohio Northern and Heidelberg at the tournament. Calvin will again face Ohio Northern at the annual Wittenberg Border Battle Classic in mid-September along with a meeting against national power Wittenberg.
Calvin will also journey to the Elmhurst Invitational in early October and will co-host the Midwest Challenge with Hope later in the month.
Calvin’s conference schedule is slated to start on September 8 when it hosts Albion in the first-ever varsity volleyball match inside the Van Noord Arena. A year ago, the Knights played their home matches on a portable floor inside the Huizenga Tennis and Track Center while the Van Noord Arena was being completed.
“We are really looking forward to making the Van Noord Arena our permanent home and also to playing our first-ever match there,” said Warners. “We were grateful to have the opportunity to remain on campus last year while playing at the Huizenga Tennis and Track Center but I think the Van Noord Arena has the potential to give our team a big home-court advantage.”
The MIAA Tournament is scheduled to begin with first round play on November 3 with the semifinals set for November 6 and the finals for November 7. The winner of this year’s MIAA Tournament will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA III Tournament.