Volleyball Defeats Wittenberg in Epic Five-Set Regional Final - Punches Ticket to NCAA III Finals
Sunday, November 11, 2012
Story by Jeff Febus/Photos by Paul Evans
In a match fitting of two top-ranked teams, the Calvin women’s volleyball secured a 23-25, 25-18, 23-25, 26-24, 15-12 victory over Wittenberg in front of more than 1,700 fans inside Calvin’s Van Noord Arena. The victory gives top-ranked Calvin a berth in the national quarterfinals next Thursday in Holland, Michigan. Calvin will face an opponent yet to be determined. Calvin’s quarterfinals match next Thursday will take place at Hope’s DeVos Fieldhouse. Calvin will be making its second trip to the national finals in the last three years.
Saturday’s match between Calvin and second-ranked Wittenberg marked the fifth meeting between the two non-conference rivals in a regional final including the third consecutive year. In 2010, Calvin defeated the Tigers in four sets in Springfield, Ohio. In 2011, Wittenberg returned the favor, defeating the Knights in four sets in Grand Rapids.
In Saturday’s epic final between the Knights and Tigers, Wittenberg was on the verge of victory as it led 22-21 in set four. Calvin regained the lead 24-23 and then 25-24 and closed out the match with a kill by sophomore Emily Crowe through the middle.
In the deciding fifth set, Calvin used a three-point run to build a 9-6 lead and then went up 12-8 and 13-10. Wittenberg clawed back however with back-to-back points, forcing Calvin to call timeout with the score 13-12. Freshman Maggie Kamp then delivered for the Knights out of the timeout with a resounding kill and on the subsequent point, a Wittenberg attacker sent a ball out-of-bounds, allowing the Knights to claim the win.
“I thought we came out ready to play today,” said Calvin women’s volleyball coach Amber Warners. “We knew that we would have a fight on our hands. Early on I think we made a few too many unforced errors but I thought that if we could hold on in set four, that we would have a good chance in set five.”
Calvin is now 4-1 in five-set matches this year and 7-2 against nationally-ranked opponents.
“I thought this was a really epic game between two highly-ranked opponents,” said Wittenberg head coach Paco Labrador. “I give all of the credit to Calvin for putting together a good game plan against us and having the kind of players that can take over a game. That’s something that every team that faces Calvin will have to figure out – a way to face their big hitters and big blockers.”
Calvin hit .251 as a team led by senior Lizzie Kamp who had 24 kills and 15 digs. Junior setter Megan Rietema was also sensational with a triple-double as she tallied 13 kills, 15 digs and 51 assists to go with six blocks. Freshman Maggie Kamp was also strong with 14 kills while senior Rebecca Ratkov had 10 kills while sophomore Emily Crowe recorded 10 blocks and seven kills. Seniors Jen Pluymert and Kelly Gordon had 20 and 18 digs respectively while junior Kristen Zietse also had 12 digs.
Wittenberg was led by Andrea Behling with 16 kills while Kara Seidenstricker had 15 kills and Jessica Batanian had 14 kills. Setter Hallie Donathan had 25 assists and libero Christine Gilene a match-high 32 digs.
The all-tournament team was led by Rietema was named the Most Outstanding Player of the regional. She was joined on the all-tournament team by Lizzie Kamp, Maggie Kamp, Gilene, Seidenstricker, Jenna Grasmeyer of Hope and Nicole Snyder of Mount Union.
Calvin will find out its national quarterfinal opponent and time of its Thursday match later this weekend. Information on the national finals at Hope can be found online at: Hope Volleyball Nationals Website