GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Calvin women's volleyball team defeated Wittenberg University 22-25, 25-22, 25-23, 15-25 and 16-14 in the NCAA Regional Final on Saturday Night at Van Noord Arena.
The last time the Knights and Tigers played each other was in the NCAA Semifinals last year as Calvin fell to Wittenberg.
It was a championship match indeed as both teams came out to win. The set remained tight as the Knights and the Tigers rallied back and forth. The Knights went on a run of five points behind the serve of freshman Grace Kellogg (Belleville, Mich. / Plymouth Christian Academy) gave the Knights a 22-17 lead, but the Tigers responded with a run of eight points to win the match 25-22.
The Tigers came out with a five-point run early in the set to take the 5-1 lead, but the Knights responded with a run of their own to tie things back up at 5-5. Wittenberg was able to make a stop but not long enough for the Knights to take the 9-6 lead. Both teams went on to rally back and forth, but Calvin went on a run of four to take the lead once again. Wittenberg was able to come back and tie It up 20-20, but Calvin relentless to lose took it 25-22.
Kellogg kicked off the third set with an ace for the Knights. With Calvin up 5-3, Wittenberg went on a four-point run to take the 7-5 lead. As the set progressed, both teams rallied keeping it a tight match. The Knights went on a run of five to take the lead 23-20. The Tigers fought back, but it was Calvin who was able to close out the set 25-23.
With the fourth set underway, both teams exchanged points halfway into the set, but a run of eight-points gave the Tigers the 20-8 advantage. The Knights rallied back, but not enough to win as the Tigers took the set 25-15.
It's only fitting that the match went into a fifth set as the #1 Calvin and #3 Wittenberg paired up. Both teams relentless to lose, were neck and neck throughout the set. The Knights down 13-12 called a timeout. Coming out after the timeout, senior Anna Kamp (Orland Park, Ill. / Chicago Christian) had a tremendous kill to tie it up. An error from the Tigers gave the Knights the 14-13 lead, but they came back with a kill to once again tie it back up. Kamp had another stellar kill to take the lead back. An error from the Tigers gave the Knights the point they needed to walk away with the win 16-14.
Kamp lead the Knights with 18 kills, 26 digs and seven block assists. Junior Sarah DeVries (Grand Rapids, Mich. / Northpointe Christian) had 14 kills, 21 assists, 21 digs and 7 block assists to notch her eighth triple-double of the season. Freshman Kelsey Smith (Vienna, Va. / Madison) had 13 kills, seven digs and three block assists. Senior Keilhana Castillo (Grandville, Mich. / Grandville) had 18 digs and Kellogg had 31 digs. Freshman Ellie Westrate (Sun Prairie, Wis. / Lakeside Lutheran)had 15 assists, and 8 digs. Making a key appearance of the bench was freshman Anna Schriemer (Vicksburg, Mich. / Vicksburg) who had one kill, five assists and three digs.
Head Coach Amber Warners stated, "I want to congratulate Wittenberg, Evelyn has done a great job with their team and their program. It's a shame that one of us is not able to go on to the National quarterfinals. I think it was a defensive battle tonight from the blocking to the digging and neither team wanted to give in. There were little spurts here and there and I'm proud of how we kept fighting and never gave up."
The Knights advance on to the NCAA DIII Quarterfinals in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania next Thursday where they will face Aurora University at 12:30 p.m. on the campus of Duquesne University.
Calvin is advancing to the national quarterfinals for the seventh time in the last nine years.