Calvin Captures Round One vs Hope in Early Clash of Nationally-Ranked Teams
Saturday, September 11, 2010
(written by sports information student assistant Derek Neice)
In another edition of one of the fiercest volleyball rivalries in Division III of the NCAA featuring two teams ranked in the top ten, the Knights of Calvin College (#8) faced off Saturday afternoon at home against the Flying Dutch of Hope College (#4). Both teams sitting on perfect 5-0 overall records, and also both 2-0 in league play thus far, expectations were high and the competitive play surely did not disappoint.
Calvin defeated the Flying Dutch 26-24, 25-21, 21-25, 25-19, coming from behind to gain wins in two of the first three sets. Calvin trailed in the first three sets, coming from behind to take two of them, and ultimately closing things out in the 4th to maintain their spotless record.
“It was our first test of really playing someone of real quality,” Warners said. “This is only going to help us gain our confidence, so we just have to keep being hungry and proving to everyone that we are a good team.”
“And I don’t think with this group that there will be any problem doing that,” Warners continued. “They are very self-motivated and they love to work.”
The first set quickly showed why both powerhouses are as highly ranked as they are as the outcome went right down to the wire, with Calvin ultimately coming back under pressure to win the set 26-24. Calvin took the early lead in the frame by jumping ahead 4-2, but the Dutch quickly responded with an 8-2 run that put them out in front by a score of 10-6. Calvin then came right back with a run of their own, running off a 10-3 string of points that gave the Knights a 16-13 advantage.
It then went back and forth for the remainder of the set as both teams looked to take control, and Hope looked to close things out as, when down 22-20, the Dutch strung out four straight points to lead 24-22 and hold a game point advantage. But the Knights would rally right back with four straight of their own to win the set. Calvin’s play was highlighted by strong play at the nets by junior and sophomore sisters Rebecca and Lizze Kamp (Orland Park, IL), who both had some vital kills to keep Calvin within striking distance as the set neared its end.
“Anytime you can squeak one out when you’re down, it is really big to set the tone of the match,” Calvin coach Amber Warners said. “We knew that we would have to play well every set in order to win this match and so I was just proud that they didn’t give up [in the first set] and that they fought through like they were playing any other point in the match.”
The second set also went to Calvin, 25-21, but it certainly was not an easy win. The initial play of the set was hard fought, purely a battle on the net as the two rivals slugged it out with no clear advantage to either side. Hope did lead early on for much of the set, with the Dutchmen’s largest lead coming a couple times when they led 16-12 and 17-13. Calvin climbed back into it though, using what would be a huge 10-1 run to take a 22-17 lead. Hope regained some of their composure by cutting the deficit to 23-21, but Calvin would coolly finish the set and take a 2-0 advantage.
“Going into this season we know we are young with many of our key players being underclassmen,” Warners mentioned. “So we’re much further along than we thought this year.”
“But we’re not going to think ahead too much,” Warners continued. “We’re just going to take it one match at a time and try to improve our game, not worrying too much about what other teams are going to bring to us.”
As the third set began the 4th ranked Flying Dutch looked unfazed though as they used an early 7-2 run to take a 13-4 advantage. The Knights slowly started climbing back into it yet again as the set wore on, cutting the lead to 18-14, and then tying the score up 21-21. Hope then rattled off four clutch points to take the set and end any hope of a third straight come-from-behind set win for the Knights.
Moving into the fourth set, Calvin finally was able to get out to an early lead as they jumped ahead 9-3 before Hope called a timeout to settle things down. Calvin upped their lead to 17-7 as the set continued, and then the Dutchmen started to mount their own comeback as they rattled off five straight to cut the deficit to 17-12. Hope continued to surge as they continued what would be a 10-2 run to get to 19-17. Calvin then used a great kill from junior Erin Vander Plas and a couple of Hope errors to up the lead to 22-18, and the Knights would close things out, taking the set 25-19.
With the Kamp sisters leading the charge from a hitting perspective, Calvin also got a great performance over the course of the match from sophomore Jen Pluymert (Grand Rapids, MI), who had a number of great digs in the back as well as a long serving stretch during Calvin’s 10-1 run during the second set.
“I think Jen [Pluymert] was the spark plug and the key that we needed at the exact time,” Warners said of the sophomore defensive specialist. “She had some really key digs and that serving run she did, she’s just cool under pressure and that was really huge.”
“Lizzie and Becca [Kamp] are just a joy to coach,” Warners continued. “They never complain, they work their tails off and I look at them as being really close as sisters but also they are certainly powerhouse individuals.”
Both Kamp sisters had 13 kills apiece while VanderPlas also had 13 kills. Freshman setter Megan Rietema had 45 assists and 11 digs while Pluymert had 14 digs and a service ace. Junior libero Kelly Peterson had 15 digs while junior Renee DeHaan had seven block assists to go with eight kills.
The win improves the 8th ranked Knights to 6-0 overall on the year and 3-0 in the conference. 4th ranked Hope drops to 5-1 overall and 2-1 in the MIAA. The next time these two strong rivals meet will be at Hope on October 13th at 6:30 p.m.