Wittenberg Defeats Calvin in NCAA III Regional Volleyball Final
Sunday, November 13, 2011
By Sports Information Student Assistant Andrew Knot/Photos by Paul Evans
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Wittenberg ended Calvin’s perfect season with a four-set victory over the Knights in the regional final Saturday night in front of more than 2,600 fans at Calvin’s Van Noord Arena.
Wittenberg (34-3) advances to the national quarterfinals next Friday in St. Louis, Missouri. Calvin’s season ends at 33-1.
The Tigers jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the first set, when Catherine Farny solo blocked Erin VanderPlas, forcing a timeout from Calvin coach Amber Warners. Out of the timeout, Calvin responded with consecutive kills from Renee DeHaan and Megan Rietema; each attacker was assisted by the other, which brought the score to 9-6. But Wittenberg would counter to take a 16-10 lead. Later in the set, Calvin would cut the lead to three. But Katie Sumner responded with two kills late in the set. On set point, Hannah Riley sealed the match with a cross court kill.
In the second set, it was Calvin’s turn to take the early lead. The Knights went on top 4-1 off a kill from VanderPlas. Lizzie Kamp and DeHaan then teamed up for a block to bring the score to 10-4. Wittenberg coach Paco Labrador called a timeout a point later. Out of the timeout, Calvin would extend the lead to 16-11 off a Rebecca Kamp kill. Rebecca Kamp contributed a kill a few points latter and Julia Hilbrands tallied a block to take the set to set point. A Wittenberg attack error concluded the set at 25-19 moments later.
The pivotal third set began similarly to the third. Christine Simpson recorded a kill to give Wittenberg a 7-3 lead. Calvin would fight back and after Jen Pluymert dug three Wittenberg attacks in a single point. Lizzie Kamp would finish the point on an attack down the line to cut Wittenberg’s lead to 7-6. After a timeout from Labrador, Wittenberg took set to 15-11. Calvin was unable to crack Wittenberg’s lead from there. The Wittenberg defense, led by libero Christina Gilene, stifled Calvin’s attack from all angles. On set point, Miranda Sagle put down a ball tight on the net to clinch the set at 25-18.
The fourth set started tight. Wittenberg held a one point lead nine points into the set. But the Tigers would take six of the next nine points, and a Hallie service ace forced a timeout from Warners. From there, Wittenberg would roll, Hannah Riley served another ace and Kimmie Dyer recorded consecutive kills. Dyer and Riley closed the set off with consecutive kills to finish the set emphatically at 25-10.
Calvin was led in defeat by Rebecca Kamp with 13 kills while Lizzie Kamp had 10 kills. Wittenberg received 15 kills from regional tournament MVP Kimmie Dyer while libero Christina Gilene amassed 24 digs and helped stymie Calvin’s offensive attack throughout the match.
“We played with nothing to lose tonight,” said Tiger setter Hallie Donathan, who had 27 assists.
Labrador commended his team’s ability to mix up the attack, and praised his team’s phenomenal defensive effort. Gilene spearheaded the Tiger defense with 24 digs.
“Wittenberg played fantastic defense,” said Warners. “They came ready to play.”
Calvin came into the match with the nation’s top hitting percentage average (.325) but hit a season-low .099 against the Tigers Saturday night.
Saturday’s match marked the fourth time Calvin and Wittenberg have met in a regional final in the last seven years. A year ago, Calvin defeated second-ranked Wittenberg in four sets in Springfield, Ohio. This year the Tigers returned the favor to the top-ranked Knights.
“I know that the Calvin-Hope rivalry is ranked as the top rivalry in the country but I think the Calvin-Wittenberg rivalry has also really developed and it’s been good for both Calvin and Wittenberg,” said Labrador. “Both teams have pushed each other to raise their level of play each year and that has not only made our teams better, but also the level of play in our region.”
All-Tournament Team: Jenna Grasmeyer (Hope); Rebecca Kamp, Lizzie Kamp, Megan Rietema (Calvin); Christina Gilene, Katie Sumner, Kimmie Dyer (Witt) Tournament MVP: Kimmie Dyer (Wittenberg)