Women’s Volleyball Team Anticipates Upcoming 2012 Campaign
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
By Mitch Blankespoor
Coming off a 33-1 campaign a year ago that included an NCAA III Regional Finals appearance, the Calvin College women’s volleyball team is fired up and ready for the 2012 season to begin.
“I don’t feel much pressure to repeat what we achieved last year, given the players we lost” head coach Amber Warners commented. “That being said, I am very excited for the challenge to take a new group of student-athletes and see how far we can go.”
This group Warners speaks of is highlighted by the senior class; six in number. Lizzie Kamp (Orland Park, IL/Chicago Christian HS), Julia Hilbrands (Grand Rapids/ Grand Rapids Christian HS), and Rebecca Ratkov (New Baltimore/Anchor Bay) are the three seniors patrolling the front row. Kamp, a 2nd team All-American and first team All-MIAA a year ago, will likely hit on the left side for the
Knights. A starter for the previous three seasons, Kamp can, and will be a force to be reckoned with. Hilbrands, also a standout on Calvin’s women’s basketball team, will play middle or right side. Ratkov, a transfer from MIAA rival Alma College two years ago, saw playing time a year ago, and will fight for a starting position this year.
The other three members of the senior class play in the back row. Jen Pluymert (Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Christian HS) has been part of the Knights rotation for the previous two seasons, and will continue to do so this year. Kim Start (Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Christian HS) saw time in the rotation a year ago, and will compete for a starting spot this year. Kelly (Gordon) Hiskes (Caledonia, South Christian HS) played libero for the majority of the 2011 season. She will play a key role in Calvin’s defensive scheme this season.
“This year’s senior class is looking forward to the challenge of carrying on the tradition we have established here at Calvin,” said Warners. “I feel they are ready to step out and be the ones to lead this group.”
The junior class consists of four student athletes, all of which have seen significant minutes at the varsity level. Megan Rietema (Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Christian HS) has been asked to run the Knights attack for the previous two seasons. A first team AVCA All-American and first team All-MIAA selection a year ago, Rietema will likely take the reins of starting setter for the third straight season. Kristi Zietse (Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Christian HS) was in the Knight’s rotation a year ago, and will likely find herself in a similar position this year. Megan Korber (Gilford NH/Gilford HS) saw her season come to an unfortunate end due to an injury suffered in an MIAA match last season. Korber’s comeback from injury has gone well however as she appears to be 100 percent going into the 2012 season. In addition, Morgan Hahn (Muncie, IN/Delta HS) looks to make an impact in the front row.
“The four juniors have a lot of experience,” Warners said. “Every year players feel more ownership towards the group. Every one of them is ready to take on more of a leadership role, and contribute more than they did last year.”
The sophomore class also has four student-athletes. Elise Biesboer (Elmhurst, IL/Timothy Christian HS) played sparingly last year, and will fight to be in the rotation this year. Stacey Kamp (Orland Park, IL/Chicago Christian HS), Emily Crowe (Granger IN, Mishiwaka Penn HS), and Ellie Diepersloot (Madera, CA/Chowchilla HS) will all battle for playing time in the front row in 2012.
“The sophomore class will see playing time. They had a great senior class to look up to last year, and this year we need them to play like upperclassmen,” Warners said.
Calvin has 14 incoming freshmen trying out for the program this year from all over the nation.
“I’m very excited about the freshmen coming in. Until we see them on campus and playing at our speed, you don’t really know,” Warners explained. “I’m interested to see how they will contribute to the team on and off the court.”
The Knights open up their 2012 campaign with a two-day tournament in Ohio. Calvin will face Transylvania, Capital, Mount Union, and Otterbein. Other non-conference opponents include the Great Lakes Regional Challenge held annually by Wittenberg University. Later in October, Calvin will play in the Midwest Challenge hosted by Hope College.
“Because we play double round robin in the MIAA, we need to play tough in-region opponents,” Warners said. “The Great Lakes Regional Challenge features some of the best teams in the nation, and many of them are in our region. The Midwest Challenge has some teams out of our region that we otherwise may not play. Both will be good early season tests for us.”
As for the conference schedule, mark September 21st and October 20th on the calendar. Calvin will first host rival Hope, and then travel to the DeVos Fieldhouse. These two teams have won or shared the MIAA title every year since 2004.
“Although most people will look at the two matchups with Hope, the conference as a whole has gotten better,” said Warners. “We cannot take any team for granted, and need to bring our A game each and every night.”
Expectations for the 2012 version of Calvin College volleyball are high, but that is not the focus of Warners.
“Every player has a key role into the personality and life of a team,” she said. “My expectation for them is to take all of the things we’ve strived for on and off the court, and make it uniquely their own. I expect each of the women in this program to become stronger Christian women, better students, better friends, and better players over the course of this season.”