BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – The No. 2 ranked Calvin volleyball team met the No. 13 ranked Bears of Washington University in St. Louis in a rematch of the 2016 national championship match in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday afternoon Bloomington, Illinois.
The Knights improve to 27-3 on the year with the 3-2 victory. The Knights rallied back from 10-14 in the fifth set to win. The Bears finish the year at 24-10. Calvin beat the Bears, 25-16, 25-15, 20-25, 23-25, 16-14.
"I first want to congratulate WashU and Vanessa," said head coach Dr. Amber Warners. "I have the upmost respect for Vanessa; I consider her one of my good friends and colleagues. At this stage of the game, your heart goes out to the other team, especially like a situation like this match. It was a game of momentum, a game of serving and passing, like it always is. I think the biggest thing we can take away from it is that we never gave up."
The Knights opened the match on a 3-1 run, behind the serve of senior Kristen Vyletel (Ann Arbor, Mich./Huron). The Maroon and Gold broke the set open at the 6-6 mark with a 5-1 run. The Bears would not go away and cut the lead to 15-13. It would be all Calvin from there, with the Knights closing the set on a 10-3 run. Junior Anna Kamp (Orland Park, Ill./Chicago Christian), who was named the Great Lakes Region Player of the Year earlier on Friday, had back-to-back service aces in the run.
The Maroon and Gold jumped on the Bears early in the second set at 9-3. Washington University responded with a 4-0 run to cut the Calvin lead to 9-7. Leading 13-10, the Knights snagged WashU in the bear trap with an 11-2 run to secure the second set. Senior Jenna Lodewyk (Villa Park, Ill./Timothy Christian) had three kills in the final Calvin run. Calvin took a 2-0 lead with a 25-15 victory.
The Bears used a 6-1 run to take a 13-9 lead in the third set. WashU pushed the lead to 20-11 and took the set 25-20.
"I think we woke the Bears in that third set," said Warners. "I thought they played much better. I don't know if it was that we were letting up on our serving or they were staying in system more. When they stay in system, they are a really tough team."
The Knights and Bears stayed close to start off the fourth set, with neither team able to build a lead larger than two points. With the Bears leading 17-16, they pushed the lead to 19-16. WashU pushed the lead to 24-20, but Calvin would not fold. Kills from Jenna Lodewyk and senior Tessa Van Laare (Toronto, Ont./Toronto District Christian) cut the deficit to 23-24. Leila King put the set away for the Bears at 25-23.
Calvin entered the match with a 2-0 record in fifth sets in 2017, with victories over Cal Lutheran and Millikin.
The Bears struck first in the fifth set with a 4-0 lead. Julianne Malek led the Bears with three kills in the run. The Knights would not fold and the serve of sophomore Sarah DeVries (Grand Rapids, Mich./Northpointe Christian) gave the Green and Red issues. After back-to-back service aces from DeVries the Knights tied the set at four. The Bears once again pushed the lead up to 7-4, but the Knights would rally back again, this time behind the serve of junior Keilahna Castillo, (Grandville,Mich./Grandville) to take the lead back at 9-7.
A 7-1 run for WashU put the Bears at the doorstep of victory and revenge at 14-10. Tessa Van Laare got the ball rolling with a kill. Jenna Lodewyk would then have to serve the rest of the set. A Bear ball handling error cut the deficit to 14-12 and a kill from freshman Sydney Segard (Hudsonville, Mich./Hudsonville) made it a one-point match. After a WashU timeout, the Bears had another attacking error to tie the match. Sarah DeVries broke the tie with a kill to give the Knight match point. The match then ended on a WashU attacking error to give the Knights the fifth set, 16-14.
"In practice, we have been focusing on serving mentality a lot," said Jenna Lodewyk. "Shout-out to the coaches for preparing us because that kind of situation is really tough. In my mind, I could acknowledge my career was on the line, that our team's season was on the line. I had to choose to believe in myself and believe that I was prepared for something like this, that I am capable of putting the ball in even in a pressure situation. It was tough, but choosing to put certain thing in your mind has made a huge difference."
Sarah DeVries had a stellar afternoon and finished one assist short of a triple-double, with 15 kills, 11 digs, nine assists and seven blocks. She also matched her career-high with four service aces.
Anna Kamp led all players with 18 kills, a career-high four service aces, and a career-high 17 digs.
Keilahna Castillo led the Knights with 23 digs.
Calvin is now 52-25 in the NCAA Tournament. The Knight have now advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament for nine-straight years.
The Knights will play Millikin in the NCAA Tournament Second Round. The Maroon and Gold beat the Big Blue at Van Noord Arena in the Midwest Invitational, 3-2 back on October 13.