GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - The No. 4 ranked Calvin volleyball team defended home court and claimed a 3-0 victory over archrival Hope College on Tuesday evening.
"I really liked where our mentality was tonight," said Calvin head coach Dr. Amber Warners. "I thought we came in very focused, excited, but not overly excited. I just sort of thought we needed to get the job done and have fun doing it. I thought Hope did a nice job of not giving up, they started to attack our defense a little bit more in the second set and we were fortunate enough to get by and still win."
With the victory, Calvin (22-3, 14-0 MIAA) clinches the MIAA regular season title outright and remains the only undefeated team in conference play. The Knights have won a share of the last eight MIAA titles, the longest streak in MIAA volleyball history. Calvin also leads the MIAA with 24 regular season titles. Hope falls to 17-10 and 11-4 in the MIAA, the four loses are the most for the Flying Dutch since the 2004 season.
Today's victory marked the 500th collegiate coaching victory for Dr. Amber Warners. She currently has 479 victories at Calvin College.
"I think the biggest thing is about when you see that video and you think about all of the current and former players, that is when it gets really meaningful," said Warners. "I think that God has reminded me and the team this year that this team has been built on process. I hate to use that word because it is cliché but we have been reminded that we have to focus on what is important, the core values of what we stand for and doing things together and loving each other. To keep grinding and getting better and I think that have been a really good reminder. I find it is ironic this happened now, with we have really been hit in the head to say 'step back' and winning isn't really that important, so many other things are more important. I am grateful, I am grateful that God has blessed me as a coach and this school with getting some incredible, young women, who are amazing people and they are pretty good at volleyball too."
Calvin leads the all-time series against Hope now 67-30. The Knights have won nine of their last 11 meetings against the Flying Dutch. Calvin head coach Dr. Amber Warners is 35-12 all-time against Hope.
The Knights jumped on the Flying Dutch early in the first set with the serve of senior Kristen Vyletel (Ann Arbor, Mich./Huron) to take a 4-1 lead. The Flying Dutch cut the Calvin lead 4-3 before the Knights would run off the next three points to push the lead to four points at 7-3.
The pendulum swung back into the favor of the Orange and Blue, as Hope recorded a 4-0 run to tie set at seven. Tied at eight, the Knights went on a 3-0 run, anchored by two attack errors from the Flying Dutch. Hope cut the lead to 12-11, but that is as close as the Flying Dutch would get. The serve of Kristen Vyletel once again threw a wrench in the Dutch attack as the Knights pushed the lead to 16-11.
Leading 16-13, the Knights slammed the door on the set with a 9-1 run to close the first set behind the serve of senior Emily Blankespoor (Grand Rapids, Mich./South Christian). The Knights claimed the first set 25-14, junior Anna Kamp (Orland Park, Ill./Chicago Christian had two kills for Calvin in the final run and six in the set. The Knights held Hope to a hitting percentage of -.194 in the first set.
The serve of Emily Blankespoor helped the Knights jump out to an early 5-1 lead in the second set. Blankespoor landed two service aces to get the ball rolling. The Flying Dutch would not go away and tied the set at five.
The Knights used a 6-0 run to reclaim the lead at 12-7, after trailing 6-7. Hope responded with a 4-0 run to stay in the set and cut the Calvin lead to 12-11.
The back end of the second set was a story of streaks. Leading 16-15, the Knights pushed the lead to 20-15 with two service aces from Emily Blankespoor and kills by Anna Kamp and senior Tessa Van Laare (Toronto, Ont./Toronto District Christian). The Flying Dutch responded with three-straight points, with two kills from Katie Rietberg. Calvin pushed the Dutch to set point at 24-20. The Orange and Blue did not back away and won the next four points, with the help of two kills from junior Vanessa Reynhout (Freeport, Mich./Lakewood), Reynhout led the second set with five kills.
Calvin regained the lead at 25-24 with a service error from sophomore Gabbi Vachon (Grand Rapids, Mich./Jenison) and won the set at 26-24 with a Hope attack error from senior Leah Dunlap (Winfield, Ill./Wheaton North).
The Maroon and Gold took an early lead again, this time in the third set at 4-1. The Flying Dutch fought right back to reclaim the lead at 5-4.
With the third set tied at nine, the Knights took the lead for good on Tuesday. Hope cut the Calvin lead to one point twice, but the Knights used a 3-0 to get some separation and a 7-2 run to close the set. A kill from freshman Sydney Segard (Hudsonville, Mich./Hudsonville) sealed the deal for Calvin at 25-16. The Maroon and Gold hit .406 in the third set. Segard recorded four kills in the second set.
The Calvin defense shut down the Hope attack on Tuesday, holding the Hope offense to a hitting percentage of .100 and three players to a negative hitting percentage. Calvin hit .300 on the evening, Tuesday marked the ninth time this season that Calvin has hit .300 or better.
Anna Kamp led all players with 15 kills, while hitting .412 on the night. Sophomore Sarah DeVries (Grand Rapids, Mich./Northpointe Christian) hit a blistering .412 against the Flying Dutch and notched eight kills. Junior Keilahna Castillo (Grandville, Mich./Grandville) led the match with 14 digs and senior Jenna Lodewyk (Villa Park, Ill./Timothy Christian) recorded 28 assists for the Knights. The duo of Sarah DeVries and sophomore Ally Fea (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Mechanicsburg) finished the match with four blocks.
"There were two teams that were out of system a lot," said Hope head coach Becky Schmidt. "Tonight was a little different, Calvin was in system more often, in the second set, we were in system a lot more often. I think you saw the hitting percentages reflect that. When teams were in system, they kind of had their way with the defense. We need to continue to find ways to get in system more. I think we exposed some things on Calvin that I was pleased by, but it has to be more consistent."
Vanessa Reynhout led the Flying Dutch with eight kills. Katie Rietberg led Hope with seven digs and also recorded six kills.
The Knights are back in action on Friday when they travel Albion College (8-6, 4-2 MIAA) as they close out the regular season. Game time is set for 6:30 p.m. Hope closes the regular season on Saturday at Albion. Calvin closes the regular season on Saturday against Trine on senior day.
With the victory, the Knights will host the MIAA Tournament next Friday and Saturday.