The top-ranked Calvin women's volleyball is now the only unbeaten team in Division III. On Friday, Calvin defeated Mount Union and Wittenberg in a pair of three-set matches at the Midwest Challenge. Mount Union and Calvin entered the day as the only two teams in Division III left unbeaten. Ranked seventh nationally, Mount Union suffered an early afternoon defeat to Wittenberg and then fell to Calvin 25-23, 25-22, 25-21 later Friday afternoon. Calvin then toppled 13th-ranked Wittenberg Friday evening by scores of 25-13, 25-15, 25-18. Calvin (21-0) will now turn its attention to a pair of Saturday matches against nationally-ranked foes as the Knights host sixth ranked Elmhurst College (22-3) at 11 a.m. and then meet 15th-ranked University of Chicago (16-5) at 3 p.m. Both matches will be played inside Van Noord Arena.
CALVIN/MOUNT UNION RECAP
By Mark DeHaan
The Knights played the Raiders of Mount Union Friday afternoon for their first contest of the Midwest Challenge. The Challenge, co-hosted by Calvin and Hope, brought eight volleyball teams from around the midwest and east coast to West Michigan to participate. Five of the eight teams were ranked in the most recent AVCA Coaches top 25 poll.
Mount Union entered Friday afternoon's contest ranked 7th in the nation, but coming off a four-set defeat at the hands of 13th ranked Wittenberg earlier in the day, the Raiders first loss on the season.
Calvin and Mount Union faced off in last year's national tournament, with the Knights taking a close match in five sets.
Friday afternoon, the Knights jumped out to an early 8-3 lead in set one behind a pair of kills from junior Emily Crowe.
Mount Union recovered to cut Calvin's lead to one at 19-18.
Strong serving from freshman Laura Danhoff then allowed to Knights to build a lead which they would not relinquish as Calvin took the first set 25-23.
In set two, Mount Union took a 6-3 lead out of the break. Calvin was able to tie the game at 10-10 before a seven point run by the Raiders gave Mount Union a 17-10 lead.
The Knights, showing why they are ranked the top team in the country, responded to tie the game at 21-21, utilizing four attack errors by the Raiders. Calvin then scored four of the next five points to earn a come-from-behind victory in set two, 25-22.
Set three saw a tight battle late after an early Calvin lead and a Mount Union response. With the game tied at 19-19, the Knights reeled off three straight points to take a 22-19 lead, again with Danhoff serving.
Calvin then finished off the Raiders, claiming a 25-21 win in set three and a three-set sweep.
Sophomore Maggie Kamp led the Knights with 14 kills while Danhoff and Crowe each added eight. Senior Megan Rietema had 36 kills and 11 digs while senior Kristen Zietse led the Knights with 19 digs.
"The last couple weeks we haven't really been tested, and that makes it difficult to stay motivated and keep improving," said head coach Amber Warners. "The team really showed a lot of guts and heart when the games were on the line, and that is exactly what we need. We need competition like this regardless of the win or the loss to help prepare us and to push us to make us better."
By Mark DeHaan
Calvin hosted #13 Wittenberg Friday evening in the Knights second matchup of the Midwest Challenge. Both teams were coming off wins over #7 Mount Union earlier in the day – Wittenberg a four set victory at 23-25, 25-14, 25-19, 25-17, and Calvin a sweep at 25-23, 25-22, 25-21.
The Knights and Tigers have played each other six times over the past three seasons, all three seasons meeting in the national tournament. Calvin took Wittenberg out in 2010 on their way to the National Championship and in 2012 in its National runner-up performance. In 2011, Wittenberg defeated Calvin in the tournament, ending the Knights undefeated season.
On Friday night, Calvin kept its undefeated 2013 season alive, defeating Wittenberg in three sets 25-13, 25-15, 25-18 to move to 21-0 on the year.
Calvin took an early 6-1 lead on the Tigers behind strong serving from senior Megan Rietema. The Knights continued to roll in set one, earning a 25-13 victory. Sophomore Maggie Kamp tallied five kills at a sizzling .625 percentage to lead Calvin in the opening set.
Wittenberg jumped out of the gate in set two to an 8-4 advantage. The Knights responded with a 12 point run to take a 16-8 lead, forcing the Tigers into four attack errors in that stretch.
Calvin then closed out the match, claiming a 25-15 victory.
In set three, the two teams played closely through the opening points, with the game tied at 12-12. The Knights then opened up a three point lead, and as they had in the first two games, closed out the Tigers behind impressive defensive play, forcing Wittenberg into five more errors for a 25-18 win.
Maggie Kamp led the Knights with 12 kills while junior Ellie Diepersloot added seven. Senior Kristen Zietse tallied 15 kills for Calvin while senior Megan Rietema racked up 25 assists, nine digs and six kills.
The Knights finished the game hitting .412 as a team while holding the Tigers to .063. Calvin totaled 10 team blocks in the three set sweep.
"I thought we did a really nice job of picking up where they were hitting the ball and setting the block," said head coach Amber Warners. "I'm really, really happy with the front line. We've talked the past two weeks about blocking and being a wall, and I think (the team) really adhered to that."
With the victory, the Knights improve to 21-0 on the season while Wittenberg drops to 13-6.
Calvin returns to action tomorrow when it will face #6 Elmhurst College at 11 a.m. and #15 University of Chicago at 2:30 p.m.