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Calvin Drops Alma & Heidelberg To Finish 4-0 at Midwest Challenge

Saturday, November 01, 2008

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Midwest Challenge Results

By Chaz Amidon

GRAND RAPIDS – The No. 14 Knights rounded out their regular season with two electrifying wins over Alma and Heidelberg on Saturday, finishing the Midwest Invitational as the only team to carve an impeccable 4-0 record.

A four-set victory over the Scots concluded Calvin’s league schedule, while a comeback win over Heidelberg – the No. 3 team in the Great Lakes Region – in the Invitational finale served to improve the Knights’ chances of moving up in the rankings as bids for the upcoming NCAA III Tournament draw near.

“It’s a great feeling to have the confidence,” said freshman Rebecca Kamp (Orland Park, Ill./Chicago Christian), who rattled off 46 combined kills during Saturday’s action. “I feel like we’re playing with a lot of confidence right now, just playing great as a team together.”

After defeating Alma in four sets (25-21, 21-25, 25-22, 25-15), Calvin solidified its second-place finish in the MIAA, garnering a record of 14-2 throughout conference play in 2008.

The Knights fended off a 6-0 Alma run in the third set to gain momentum heading into the fourth, where Calvin raced out to an 8-1 advantage and cruised to its most decisive victory over the Scots, 25-15.

Heading into the afternoon finale against Heidelberg, the only top-three team in the Great Lakes Region that Calvin hadn’t defeated, both the Knights and Bergs were only two of eight teams to have 3-0 records at the Invitational.

Despite dropping the first set, the Knights rallied to pick up three consecutive set-wins over Heidelberg (22-25, 25-22, 25-15, 25-18), the second-place team hailing from the Ohio Athletic Conference.

“I don’t know exactly the tempo we were playing with, but it wasn’t excitable,” said Calvin coach Amber Warners of the first-set loss to Heidelberg. “We were just kind of going through the motions.”

“We talked to them in between games, saying…it’s a huge match. What more motivation do they need? And they really responded well.”

Calvin was led by the always-stellar play of Kamp, who poured in 22 kills and five total blocks against the Bergs. Junior Sara Kramer (Dyer, Ind./Illiana Christian) added 10 kills, while junior Rachel DeYoug (Hudsonville/Unity Christian) and freshman Erin VanderPlas (Cadillac/McBain Christian) recorded nine and six, respectively.

But it was the Knights’ defense anchoring the win against a deep Heidelberg team, as Calvin had only one receiving error throughout the match – a sign that the defensive adjustments of Coach Warners’ squad are coming to fruition.

“It’s so fun to play with girls that are awesome, all-around,” said VanderPlas, who blasted the final two kills for Calvin in their fourth-set victory. “There’s no weak point, really. It’s great to play on a team where our setter can go anywhere and we can get a kill.”

Senior setter Lauren DeGroot (Tulare, Calif./Central Valley Christian) compiled 100 assists in Calvin’s two wins on Saturday, while junior Kelsey Sears (Traverse City/Traverse City West) notched 48 digs.

Calvin will now host the first round of the MIAA Tournament this Tuesday, Nov. 4 at the Huizenga Track and Tennis Center against Kalamazoo. Calvin finishes in second place in the final MIAA regular season standings and will hold the #2 seed for next week’s MIAA Tournament.

“We’re going to keep working on the little things,” said Warners. “We’re going to just keep going. As long as the players keep buying into it, I think we’re going to do okay.”

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