GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- On Tuesday evening, the No. 1 ranked Calvin women's volleyball team welcomed the Alma College Scots to Van Noord Arena for the first of its three home matches in the final week of the MIAA regular season.
The Knights entered the contest on top of the MIAA with a 13-0 conference record and a 23-0 overall mark, while the Scots came into the match 7-7 in MIAA and 12-13 overall. Sitting in fifth place in the conference, Alma could still remain in contention for one of the four MIAA Tournament spots with a victory over the Knights.
However, the Knights maintained their unblemished record and knocked the Scots out of MIAA postseason contention with a 25-14, 25-18, 25-15 sweep. With this victory, the Knights clinch a share of the MIAA regular season crown. Calvin has won at least a share of the last six MIAA regular season titles.
"I was really pleased with our defense tonight," said head coach Amber Warners. "It is a great honor for the team to earn a share of the MIAA title. This group has worked very hard this season, and they are deserving of this honor. With that being said, we still have a lot of things we want to accomplish, but this is a key step."
Early in the first set, the Knights used a five-point run to jump out to a 7-2 lead and force a timeout by the Scots. Following the timeout, the teams went back-and-forth in scoring with the Knights holding onto a five or six-point advantage. However, after three consecutive kills by the Knights, courtesy of junior Tessa Van Laare (Toronto, Ontario/Toronto District Christian) and a pair by senior Laura Danhoff (Willard, Ohio/Willard), the Knights possessed a 15-6 lead and Alma called its second timeout. Despite winning a few big rallies late in the set, the Scots were unable to recover from their early deficit, and the Knights rolled to a 25-14 win.
The Scots scored the first point of the second set, but the Knights responded with six consecutive points to go up 6-1. Calvin would continue to build on its lead, earning a 14-8 advantage, but Alma would claim the next four points to narrow the gap to two. The Scots would come within one point of the Knights on several occasions, but a big kill by freshman Sarah DeVries (Grand Rapids, Mich./Northpointe Christian) that gave Calvin a 20-17 lead fueled the home team to finish out the set. A service ace by sophomore Anna Kamp (Orland Park, Ill./Chicago Christian) sealed the 25-18 victory for the Knights.
In the third set, the Scots hung with the Knights early, trailing only by four points. Behind the serve of junior Emily Blankespoor (Grand Rapids, Mich./South Christian), Calvin would pull away, earning the next five points to put them ahead 15-6. Despite a comeback effort by the Scots, the Knights outscored Alma 10-9 to close out the match, claiming a 25-15 victory.
Laura Danhoff recorded a match-high 17 kills for the Knights with a .680 hitting percentage. Junior Jenna Lodewyk (Villa Park, Ill./Timothy Christian) had a solid all-around performance for the Knights, pumping out 35 assists while also recording four kills, four service aces and eight digs. Anna Kamp finished with nine kills and ten digs. On the defensive end, Emily Blankespoor led the way for the Knights with 12 digs, while sophomore Keilahna Castillo (Grandville, Mich./Grandville) had 11. Sophomore Dani Rae Wascher (Albuquerque, N.M./Bosque) recorded her first dig of the season in the third set.
The Knights' three-match home stand continues on Friday night when they host rival Hope College at 6:30 p.m. On Saturday, the Knights will host Olivet College at 1 p.m.