Volleyball Team Led by Strong Group of Seniors
Thursday, September 03, 2009
(written by Sports Information Student Assistant Andrew Knot)
Anchored by a hardworking, selfless senior class, the 2009 Calvin Knights volleyball team is ready to set sail on a new season.
After last year’s 26-5 effort ended in the team’s third straight trip to the NCAA III tournament’s first round, the Knights seniors are prepared to lead their team into uncharted waters.
Kelsey Sears, Sara Kramer, Katie Corbett, Nora Bruskewitz, and Rachel DeYoung compose this year’s ensemble of seniors, with Sears, Kramer, and Corbett as captains.
Coach Amber Warners, voted last year’s winner of the Division III Great Lakes Regional Coach of the Year by her peers in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA), asserts, “This class worked the hardest in the off-season of any senior class I’ve coached. They have put the team concept above themselves. It’s evident in the way the act.”
This work ethic and special bond wasn’t formed overnight. The three senior captains all recalled meeting each other at Calvin’s volleyball camp prior to freshmen year. Since then, the players have established a friendship that extends beyond the volleyball court; Kramer and Corbett lived together last year and Kramer and Sears went on an Interim trip abroad together.
“Ever since [volleyball camp] we’ve been great friends. We always have a blast together,” said Sears, a 5’6” libero from Traverse City, MI.
While getting along tremendously, each one of the seniors plays a different role within the overall scheme of the team.
“We all have different strengths and weaknesses that we bring to the table,” said Corbett, a 5’8” libero from St. Joseph, MI.
“Nora is fun and lighthearted when things get tense. Rachel is intense; she works hard. She is always pushing us to do our best. She’s the biggest spiritual leader on the team,” said Corbett about Nora Bruskewitz, a setter from Milwaukee, WI and Rachel DeYoung, an outside hitter from Hudsonville, MI.
Sara Kramer, a 5’11” hitter from Dyer, IN will contribute to the attack from the left, middle, and right.
“Sara is a steady player. She tends to get it done, and she is always positive. She is really going to be an asset for us,” said Warners. After an All-MIAA second team year, Kramer hopes to exhibit leadership on and off the court to a young, talented team.
Corbett will assist on the other side of the ball as a defensive specialist/libero.
Warners said of Corbett, “Katie is the heart of the team. Her drive and heart for the game and her teammates is second to none. She has a great serve and is consistent in the back.”
Corbett’s libero complement, Kelsey Sears, returns after receiving MIAA Defensive Player of the Year Honors. Both her fellow captains and her coach labeled Sears as “intense.” Kramer said of her first impression of Sears, “I was a little intimidated by Kelsey, as I think everyone is when they meet her.”
Warners called Sears a “natural floor leader.”
“She is our anchor. She keeps things calm but brings intensity to the team,” Warners continued.
The leadership efforts of Calvin’s five returning seniors and three captains will play a pivotal role in the development of their deep, talented team. Collectively, Warners praises her captains for their ability to make tough decisions and sacrifice for the team, putting their own best interests aside for the sake of the team. With different players possessing different roles, Warners hopes each contributor feels due recognition for her effort.
Calvin enters the year ranked 16th in the AVCA Division III Top 25 poll. Returning four starters and bringing in a host of talent, expectations are high. The Knights also anticipate playing in the Van Noord Arena for the first time. After playing last year’s home games in the Huizenga Track and Tennis Center turned makeshift volleyball court, Coach Warners expects the new arena to provide an “intimate, but big time feel.”
“I can’t say how nice it feels to be in the gym. It feels like we’re home,” said Warners.
Kramer said of the arena, “It will definitely generate big home-court advantage.”