2011 Calvin Women’s Volleyball Preview
Saturday, August 13, 2011
By Sports Information Student Assistant Mitch Blankespoor
The 2010 Calvin volleyball season is best described as an up and down season. The lowest point of the 2010 season came on November 6th at the DeVos Fieldhouse. The Knights had just been beat in straight sets by the Hope College Flying Dutch in the MIAA Tournament Final.
“Right after that match, I doubted our team’s ability to win a big match. But after we talked in the locker room, I could see the desire in the girl’s eyes. We didn’t want our season to end.” Head coach Amber Warners recalled.
She proved to be right, and the high point of Calvin’s season came sixteen days later on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis. The Knights hoisted the NCAA III national championship trophy after a four set victory over top ranked Emory University (GA).
The 2010 version of the Calvin women’s volleyball team will never be forgotten. They finished with a record of 32-4, earned a share of the MIAA regular season title, and won the school’s first ever volleyball national championship. That is in the past, and now it is time for the 2011 season. If the Knights are to match last year’s success, they must have the right mindset and avoid injury.
“Winning the national championship last year gives us the confidence of knowing what it is really like to compete. I hope we can maintain that competitive attitude without losing our hunger or dwelling too much on the past.”
Calvin returns 13 letter winners from last year’s national championship while only losing three seniors.
“There is no replacing the personalities we have lost, but it will be fun to see how the freshmen fit in to the core of our team.”
The “core” of the team returning that coach Warners speaks of is led by a pair of sisters up front. Rebecca Kamp (Orland Park, IL/Chicago Christian HS) will be entering her senior campaign as one of the most decorated players in Calvin volleyball history. Rebecca was named the most valuable player of the MIAA conference as well as the NCAA III volleyball tournament last year. In addition, she claimed first team AVCA Division III All-America honors for the third straight year while also earning spots on the All-MIAA first team and Great Lakes All-Region team for the third straight year. Kamp finished 3rd nationally in hitting percentage (.431), 6th in blocks per set (1.37), 10th in points per set (5.25), and 23rd in kills per set (4.06).
Lizzie Kamp (Orland Park, IL/Chicago Christian HS) joins her sister in the front row. Entering her junior season, she was named to the All-MIAA first team for the first time in her career. She hit a .307clip, and averaged 2.74 kills per set. Completing the front row for the Knights are fellow seniors Erin Vander Plas (Cadillac/McBain Northern Michigan Christian HS) and Renee DeHaan (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS). Vander Plas was named to the NCAA III all-tournament team for the first time in her career. In a starting outside hitter role, Vander Plas hit a .248 clip while averaging 2.48 kills per set.
Renee De Haan was a second team all MIAA selection for the second straight year as well as being named to the all MIAA academic team for the second straight year. She finished 6th nationally in blocks per set (1.38). De Haan’s skills also proved very valuable in the national championship game scoring 12 kills and hitting a .409 clip in Calvin’s four set win over Emory University (GA).
6’ 1” Sophomore Megan Rietema (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS) will return to take the setting duties for the Knights. A year ago, Rietema was named the AVCA Division III National Freshmen of the Year, AVCA Great Lakes Regional Freshmen of the Year, and MIAA Freshmen of the Year. In addition, Rietema was a first team all MIAA selection as well as being named to the NCAA III all-tournament team. She was also an honorable mention AVCA All-American. In her first year setting for the Knights, she finished 21st nationally in assists per set (10.53) and 30th nationally in blocks per set (1.14). Rietema recorded the most blocks in a single match in MIAA history with 12 in a match against Olivet.
Other returning letter winners include senior Kelly Peterson (Ramsey, MN/Anoka HS), juniors Julia Hilbrands (Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Christian HS) and Jen Pluymert (Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Christian HS) and Gina Luurtsma (Holland, Holland Christian HS) and Kim Start (Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Christian) and Kelly Gordon (Caledonia, South Christian HS), and Rebecca Ratkov (New Baltimore, Anchor Bay HS), sophomores Kristi Zietse (Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Christian HS) and Morgan Hahn (Muncie, IN/Delta).
Kelly Peterson will be entering her senior season and her second season as the Knights libero. A year ago, Peterson averaged a team high 3.75 digs per set while receiving serve at a.912 clip. Kristi Zietse also saw time in the back row for Calvin. Her serving came up huge in the regional championship game at Wittenberg. Zietse served the Knights out of a 23-21 hole in two games helping the Knights to defeat the second ranked team in the country in four games.
Calvin will also be bolstered this season with the addition of Megan Korber (Gilford NH/Gilford HS). Korber was set to receive her varsity letter last season, and was forced to sit the bench after a shoulder injury.
“Korber has one of the best verticals on the team. She is very strong, and can put the ball away. She is left handed, and has potential to see time in the rotation.”
The Knights have a tough schedule on their quest to defend their national championship. Calvin will face four teams that were ranked in the AVCA’s final Division III Top 25 poll. Ranked teams that Calvin is scheduled to face include Heidelberg (#15), Carthage (#14), Hope (#10), and Wittenberg (#6).
Calvin will open MIAA play at home when the Britons of Albion come to the Van Noord Arena on September 6th.
As for expectations for the season, coach Warners puts things into perspective well.
“Some might say that anything short of another national championship would make this season a failure, but our job is to focus on each match at a time, each set at a time, and each point at a time. It is about the process and being together as a group more than the outcome of matches. Striving for achieving all our goals on and off the court.”