2013 Calvin Women’s Volleyball Preview
Monday, August 12, 2013
Over the last three years, the Calvin women’s volleyball team has put together the most impressive stretch in program history. During that time, the Knights have compiled an overall won-loss record of 98-8 that includes a national title in 2010, a national runner-up finish in 2012 and three consecutive MIAA regular season crowns.
Can the Knights keep the momentum going? Head coach Amber Warners thinks they can.
“We have talented players returning, strong leadership and a good incoming recruiting class with some individuals I feel that can contribute this fall,” said Warners who was named the AVCA Division III National Coach of the Year in 2012. “The biggest thing that we have going in our program right now though is the mindset to be the very best that can be. I think there is a drive and determination with our women to use their gifts to the utmost both on and off the court. By doing that, we feel that we honor and glorify God.”
Calvin returns nine letterwinners from last year’s team that finished 33-3 overall and on top of the MIAA standings with a 16-0 conference mark. The senior class is headlined by soon-to-be four-year starting setter Megan Rietema (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS). At 6-2, Rietema possesses height and an impressive wingspan up front at the net that allows her not only to be an offensive threat, but also a defensive weapon. A two-time AVCA Division III All-American including a first team choice last year, Rietema averaged 10.43 assists per set last year while averaging just under one block per set. A three-time first team All-MIAA selection, she also compiled an attack percentage of .325 and averaged 2.17 digs-per-set. Rietema spent the offseason playing overseas with an AVCA All-America team in Costa Rica and is primed for a big senior year.
Joining Rietema in the senior class is 5-9 libero Kristen Zietse (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS). Zietse tallied a career-high 28 service aces last fall and should be a candidate to take over Calvin’s libero position this season.
The junior class includes 6-0 middle-hitter Brittany Rosendale (Jenison/Unity Christian HS), 5-5 defensive specialist Elise Biesboer (Elmhurst, IL/Timothy Christian HS), 5-11 outsider hitter Stacey Kamp (Orland Park/Chicago Christian HS), 5-11 middle-hitter Emily Crowe (Granger, IN/Mishawaka Penn HS) and 5-10 outside hitter Ellie Diepersloot (Madera, CA/Chowchilla HS).
Crowe was a full-time starter last fall and emerged as a consistent threat at the net as the season progressed. She was named to the All-MIAA second team and was a key player in three NCAA III Tournament matches played at Hope as she tallied 11 kills against the University of Puget Sound in the national quarterfinals, 10 kills against Christopher Newport in the national semifinals and 14 kills in the national championship final against the University of St. Thomas. On the season, Crowe averaged 1.84 kills and 1.04 blocks-per-set while hitting at a .271 clip.
Rosendale Kamp and Diepersloot showed flashes in limited playing time last year and will compete for playing time at their respective positions. Biesboer averaged just under a dig-per-set in a reserve role and will look for more playing time this fall in the back row.
The sophomore class includes 5-4 setter/libero Jamie Kooiman (Eugene, OR/South Oregon HS), 6-2 outside hitter Maggie Kamp (Orland Park, IL/Chicago Christian HS) as well as several players who were on the Calvin junior varsity team last year seeking to move up to the varsity.
Kooiman served as the back-up setter to Rietema last year and is also capable of playing in the back row. Maggie Kamp meanwhile will be a “go-to” player for the Knights after a stellar freshman campaign that saw her earn All-MIAA second team and Great Lakes All-Region honorable mention recognition. Kamp was also named the MIAA’s Freshman of the Year. She averaged 2.81 kills-per-set along with a .256 hitting percentage. In six NCAA III Tournament matches, she averaged 2.88 kills-per-set including 17 kills in a regional semifinal win over Mount Union. She also chalked up a career-high 18 kills in a win against nationally-ranked Washington University of Missouri in late September.
“We had a very good (non-traditional) spring season,” said Warners. “I think several of our players took steps forward in their level of play. The competition for playing time will again be high but pushing forward to be the best we can be as a team is our goal. If I look at our schedule, I think there will be some moments of growing pains early. We will be young at certain positions and that inexperience may lead to some growing pains but we will get better as the year continues.”
Calvin’s schedule kicks off with a bang as the Knights will travel to the west coast to face a slew of top-flight teams in a tournament hosted by the University of Puget Sound which Calvin faced in the 2012 national quarterfinals. On August 30, Calvin will face Wartburg and Pacific Lutheran and follow with matches against Puget Sound and UC-Santa Cruz on August 31. Pacific Lutheran was ranked 21st and Puget Sound ninth in last year’s final AVCA Division III Top 25 poll.
Calvin will open defense of its MIAA title on September 3 when it hosts Albion at 6:30 p.m. at Van Noord Arena. Matches against rival Hope are scheduled for September 17 (at Calvin) and October 18 (at Hope). Hope finished seventh in last year’s final national poll.
On September 13 and 14, Calvin will travel to Springfield, Illinois, to compete in the Wittenberg Fall Classic. While there, Calvin will face Washington University (Mo.), Heidelberg University, The College of Mount St. Joseph and Otterbein University. Washington University was ranked eighth in the final AVCA Division III Top 25 poll while Heidelberg was a top 25 team for portions of the season. Otterbein finished 13th in the final AVCA Division III Top 25 poll.
An October highlight will include the Midwest Fall Classic which Calvin will co-host with Hope College. On October 11, Calvin will face Mount Union at 4 p.m. and Wittenberg at 8 p.m. Ranked 11th in the final AVCA Division III Top 25 poll in 2012, Mount Union took Calvin to five sets in the NCAA III regional semis last fall. Wittenberg and Calvin have met three consecutive years in the NCAA III Regional finals with Calvin coming out on top last year in an epic five-set marathon. The Tigers finished fifth in the final national poll.
On October 12, Calvin will host Elmhurst University at 11 a.m. and the University of Chicago at 2:30 p.m. Both teams were in the NCAA III Tournament last year with Elmhurst reaching the NCAA III semifinals and finishing fourth in the final national poll while Chicago finished 14th in the final national rankings.
The four-team MIAA Tournament is slated to be held November 8 and 9 at Calvin with the winner receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA III Tournament. Calvin is the two-time defending MIAA Tournament champion.
“We’ve got a rugged schedule ahead of us but we are looking forward to the challenge,” said Warners. “I think first of all, the level of competition within our own league continues to improve and we will have a target on our backs every match we play so we will need to be ready. I think our non-conference schedule speaks for itself. I’m not sure there are too many other schools at the Division III level that will play a non-conference schedule as challenging as ours but that’s a good thing because our program is at the level now where it needs to be play a schedule like that. We are also looking forward to our kick-off tournament in the state of Washington. It will be a great experience for our young women to travel to a beautiful part of the country and hopefully meet several of our Calvin alumni in the northwest.”