GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The No. 1 Calvin women's volleyball team opened its conference season on Saturday night against rival No. 13 Hope College at Van Noord Arena. The Knights defeated the Flying Dutch in a five-set thriller (25-16, 25-23, 19-25, 23-25, 15-7) to remain undefeated on the season.
The Knights took the first two sets, but Hope battled back to win the third and fourth set before Calvin claimed the final set and the match. The win marks Calvin's third five-set victory against a nationally-ranked opponent of the season, including its second straight at home.
With the win, Calvin improves to 12-0 overall with a 1-0 conference mark. Hope falls to 11-2 overall and 1-1 in MIAA play.
"I thought it was a typical Calvin-Hope match – swings here and there, momentum shifts. I thought there was great play from both sides, and we're really fortunate to be on the winning side tonight," said head women's volleyball coach Dr. Amber Warners. "We really stepped it up when we needed to. I liked how we held tough when they were making their big run."
The Knights came out strong, using a strong block to build a 7-2 lead and force a Hope timeout. After the break, Hope rallied for five straight points, including three service aces. Calvin responded with a 7-1 run to lead 14-8. Senior Anna Kamp (Orland Park, Ill./Chicago Christian) and junior Sarah DeVries (Grand Rapids, Mich./Northpointe Christian) sparked the Knights' offense with back-to-back kills. Hope sided out, but Calvin continued to roll behind the serve of senior libero Keilahna Castillo (Grandville, Mich./Grandville) as freshman Grace Kellogg (Belleville, Mich./Plymouth Christian Academy) and freshman setter Anna Schriemer (Vicksburg, Mich./Vicksburg) put down kills. After two points by the Flying Dutch, the Knights scored four straight points before Hope called its second timeout. The Knights scored again of the break before the Flying Dutch posted a trio of points to make the score 19-13. Calvin came back with four straight points to earn a 10-point advantage, its largest of the set. Hope was unable to recover from the deficit and the Knights took a 25-16 set-one win.
In the second set, the Knights took a commanding 7-0 lead and Hope used up a timeout early. Out of the break, Calvin scored again before Hope responded with three straight points. The Flying Dutch narrowed the Knights' to 10-7 before Calvin called timeout. The two teams exchanged points until Hope capitalized on Calvin errors for a four-point run to make the score 13-12, still in favor of the Knights. With Calvin holding a 15-12 lead, the Flying Dutch sided out and put down three straight kills to take a one-point lead. The score was tied four times in the next seven points until Calvin scored back-to-back points, including a stuff block by junior Ally Fea (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Mechanicsburg) and DeVries. Hope tied the score at 22, but a kill by freshman Kelsey Smith (Vienna, Va./Madison) gave the Knights a late boost and Calvin took a close 25-23 set two win.
Hope scored the first three points of the third set before Kamp landed a powerful kill for the Knights. The teams went back-and-forth in scoring with the Flying Dutch holding their lead until Calvin scored a trio of points to tie the score at seven. Hope regained the lead with a five-point run to make the score 12-7. The Knights came within two points of the Flying Dutch before Hope scored five consecutive points to widen the lead to seven. Calvin and Hope traded points, but the Knights were unable to stage a run and Hope took set three 25-19 to stay alive.
In the fourth set, Calvin pulled ahead 9-6 early before Hope broke up the momentum with a tie. After the break, Hope won a few big rallies to tie the score at nine. Calvin earned a point off a Hope service error, but Hope came back with a 5-1 run to lead 14-11. The Knights rallied to tie the score at 15 and then 16 before a dump kill by Schriemer, followed by a kill by DeVries gave the Knights a two-point edge. Hope called timeout and came back with four straight points to lead 20-18 and force a Calvin timeout. The teams exchanged points, but it was Hope who reached 25 points first to force a fifth set.
Calvin came out swinging in the final set. Smith, Kamp and Fea found the floor before DeVries and Kamp shut down Hope's attack to make the score 5-2 and force a Hope timeout. DeVries connected for kill out of the break before Hope scored its third point. Another kill by DeVries kept Calvin's offense rolling. Hope responded with a point, but DeVries followed by putting down her third kill of the match before Castillo landed a key service ace. After a Flying Dutch point, the Knights surged for five straight points to lead 14-5. Kellogg contributed two kills in the run, while DeVries came up with back-to-back aces. Hope made one last effort with two straight points, but a final kill from DeVries sealed the victory for the Knights.
Kamp led the Knights offense with 19 kills, while also posting a team-high 21 digs. DeVries had another solid all-around game, racking up a game-high 26 assists, 16 kills, seven digs, six block assists and two service aces. Smith contributed 10 kills, while Castillo finished with 11 digs and two aces. The Knights swung for a .280 hitting percentage in the winning effort, while shutting down Hope's offense with 11 team blocks.
Freshman Ana Grunewald led Hope with 12 kills, while Katie Rietberg and McKenna Otto finished with 11 and 10 kills, respectively. Hope hit .179 in the loss.
"As is often the case, these matches come down to serve and pass," said Hope head women's volleyball coach Becky Schmidt. "When we were passing and serving tough, we were certainly creating more opportunities for ourselves and making it a little bit harder for Calvin to attack into our defense. Although, I do want to credit them because I thought their offense did a very nice job being able to stay balanced and make adjustments."
The Knights are back in action on Wednesday when they travel to Kalamazoo for another conference match. Match time is set for 7 p.m.