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Women’s Volleyball Captures First Regional Title Since 1992 With Win Over 2nd-Ranked Wittenberg

Saturday, November 13, 2010

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Photos Courtesy of Wittenberg University

By Sports Information Director Jeff Febus and Sports Information Student Assistant Mitch Blankespoor

SPRINGFIELD, OH - The third time proved to be the charm for the Calvin women’s volleyball team. In a stunning upset, the 10th-ranked Knights defeated the second-ranked Wittenberg Tigers on their home floor in the regional final Saturday night by scores of 25-23, 25-21, 20-25, 25-23. With the win, Calvin (29-4) advances to the Elite Eight for the first time since the 1992 season. The Elite Eight will take place at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, which ironically is the same site that Calvin traveled to in 1992 when the Knights reached the NCAA III Final Four.

Saturday’s match marked the third meeting between Calvin and Wittenberg in a regional final with the Tigers winning in 2005 (at Wittenberg) and in 2006 (at Calvin). The third meeting in the regional final proved to be a different story however as the Knights came out with determination from the outset, winning the first set with a five-point run after trailing 23-20.

“Getting a win in the first set was huge,” said Calvin women’s volleyball coach Amber Warners who will take her second Calvin athletics team to a national final round as she also led the Calvin women’s softball team to the 1997 NCAA III World Series. “It was very important to strike first. Our players knew that and their focus was tremendous.”

Calvin kept the focus in the second set, building a 21-16 lead and then withstanding a late Wittenberg comeback bid to close out the set to take a commanding 2-0 lead.

The host Tigers (32-3) refused to fold however, taking a 14-5 lead in set three. At that point, it was Calvin’s turn to rally as the Knights ripped off 15 of the next 20 points to take a 20-19 lead. Wittenberg responded with six straight points of its own to pick up the 25-20 win and force a fourth set.

The fourth set started out favorable for the Wittenberg Tigers.  Batanian again had a service run to give Witt a 9-6 lead forcing a timeout from coach Warners.  Team traded sideouts until Miranda Sagle had back-to-back kills to give Wittenberg an 18-12 lead.  Calvin then won three points two of which came from blocks by Renee DeHaan (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS), who finished with a team high 11 blocks.  Wittenberg called a timeout attempting to stop the Knights comeback.  The score then came to 23-21 Wittenberg.  It was none other than Calvin freshman Kristi Zietse (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS) at the service line for the Knights.  Calvin rattled off the next four points behind blocks from freshman setter Megan Rietema (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS) and DeHaan to clinch the match.

“I had full confidence in my team” Zietse said after the match.  “I just went through my normal routine, what I have practiced for the past three months.”

Neither team hit well.  Calvin came into the match as the nations leader in hitting percentage.  Wittenberg held then to only a .215 clip.  The problem for Witt was they only hit .169.  The Tigers had 55 assists, 49 of which came off of the hands of Amy Cox.  Calvin had 37 assists.  30 of those were credited to Megan Rietema.  Wittenberg had 60 digs compared to Calvin’s 50.  The story of the game was Calvin’s block.  The Knight’s front row put up 19 blocks compared to only five for Wittenberg.

“It was a gutsy performance from our whole team.  We asked the players to play point by point not worrying about the score” head coach Amber Warners said after the victory.  I have never played or coached in a game where a team had 19 blocks.  Our outsides did a great job to set up the block, and the middle’s worked very hard to get in position.”

“I am so proud of this team,” continued Warners. “They believed in each other all weekend and fought for every point. They never gave up, no matter what the score was.”

Calvin was led in the win over the Tigers by the sister tandem of Lizzie and Rebecca Kamp with Lizzie collecting 13 kills and Rebecca 10 kills. Both sisters were named to the all-tourmament team with Rebecca Kamp earning tournament MVP honors. Rietema was also named to the all-tournament team. In the regional final win, she tallied 30 assists, 10 digs and six block assists. Junior Kelly Peterson (Ramsey, MN/Anoka HS) had 15 digs. As a team. Calvin had 30 block assists and four block solos for a team block total of 17.

NOTES: ....Saturday’s match marked Calvin’s fourth appearance in the regional finals since it last captured a regional title in 1992. Calvin was defeated in the 1997 regional final (at Wittenberg) by Ohio Northern and then fell to Wittenberg in 2005 and 2006…..Calvin head coach Amber Warners has NCAA III Final Four experience as a player….as a freshman in 1986…she as the starting setter on a Calvin team that reached the national finals before falling to UC-San Diego in five sets….the 1986 NCAA III Final Four was held at Calvin.

Wittenberg Regional Site

NCAA III Interactive Bracket

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