OSHKOSH, Wis. – The Knights advanced to the NCAA Tournament finals for the fifth time in program history with a 3-0 victory over Northwestern (Minn.) on Thursday evening. The Knights swept the eagles, 28-26, 25-18, 25-17. Calvin improves to 32-1 on the year and Northwestern finishes the season at 34-5. Calvin will face Washington University at St. Louis at 8 p.m. Eastern standard time and 7 p.m. Central standard time at the Kolf Sports Center in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
"I'd like to congratulate Beth from Northwestern University," said head coach Amber Warners. "She does a fantastic job with her players. I don't think that the scores reflect how tight of a match it was, every point was fought pretty hard, they have a lot of talent and she does a good job with them. We have talked all season about just playing, I thought that we were in control until it was about 20 and I loved with how we kept with that philosophy and we were confident in ourselves, despite a couple of mistakes, and that is the name of the game."
Calvin took an early 5-2 lead on the Eagles in the first set behind the serve of sophomore Keilahna Castillo (Grandville, Mich./Grandville) and junior Emily Blankespoor (Grand Rapids, Mich./South Christian). Senior Laura Danhoff (Willard, Ohio/Willard) had two kills in the Calvin run. Northwestern would cut the lead to 7-6 before Calvin would go on a 3-1 run to take a 10-7 lead. Calvin would push the lead to four on four occasions before the Eagles would strike-back and tie the set at 19. Northwestern would take a 24-23 lead, but that would not phase the Knights. Freshman Sarah DeVries (Grand Rapids, Mich./Northpointe Christian) tie the set at 24 and 26. Laura Danhoff recorded the final two kills of the set and the Knights would win 28-26. Laura Danhoff had nine kills in the first set.
The two teams were neck-and-neck to start the second set, with neither team being able to get separation. The Knights were able to get some separation, leading 17-16. Calvin would go on a 3-0 run on the serve of Keilahna Castillo. The Maroon and Gold would cruise to close the set on a 5-1 run to win 25-18. Laura Danhoff finished with a set-high six kills and the Knights hit .368 in the second set.
The Knights would jump on the Eagles early in the third set, with a 4-1 lead. Northwestern would claw-back. Tied at 15, Calvin would close the set on a 10-2 run to clinch a spot in the championship match, Sarah DeVries had three kills in the final run and finished with a set-high five kills in the third set.
Laura Danhoff finished with a match-high 19 kills, Sarah DeVries had 12 kills on Friday night. Jenna Lodewyk had a match-high 42 assists. Jenna Lodewyk, Keilahna Castillo and Emily Blankespoor all had two aces for Calvin. Keilahna Castillo led the Knights with 12 digs, with Emily Blankespoor tallying 11 digs. Ally Fea and Sarah DeVries both had two blocks.
This will be this fifth national championship match in program history. The Knights won the title in 2010 and 2013.