By Mark DeHaan
A triple feature of Calvin-Hope MIAA Championship contests accumulated in an evening matchup between the top two volleyball teams in Division III. With a Hope victory in men's soccer and a Calvin win in women's soccer, volleyball was set up as the rubber match between the two long-time rivals.
Like anyone would expect between two highly ranked and skilled teams, the match came down to the wire, with Calvin claiming the five-set victory, 20-25, 25-22, 20-25, 25-15, 15-12.
The first set saw Hope claim a five point victory. The Flying Dutch hit .368 in the first set, recording four blocks on the Knights. Anna Lynch and Jenna Grasmeyer each had four kills in set one without committing an error.
The Knights responded with a hard-fought 25-22 victory. Calvin held the Flying Dutch to a hitting percentage of .081. Senior Kristi Zietse was huge in set two for the Knights, tallying eight digs while senior Megan Rietema had four kills.
Hope again took a set lead with a 25-20 win in the third set. The teams were tied at 17-17 before a surge from the Flying Dutch and an 8-3 run closed out the set. Neither team hit well in set three, but Grasmeyer tallied seven kills for Hope.
Set four was an impressive showing from the Knights, rebounding from the set three loss for a 25-15 victory. Hope hit -.050 in the set while Calvin's front line tallied four blocks.
In the decisive fifth set, errors hurt the Knights out of the break. Three errors by the Knights allowed the Flying Dutch to build a 7-2 lead. A kill from sophomore Maggie Kamp and five straight errors by Hope then gave Calvin an 8-7 lead before the teams switched sides of the court.
The Knights continued to hold their momentum after the switch, taking a 10-7 advantage before Hope responded with a point, ending the 8-0 Calvin run. The Knights then closed out the fifth set 15-12 on a kill from Kamp, claiming the 3-2 sets victory.
The Knights were led by junior Ellie Diepersloot who had 13 kills. Kamp chipped in 12 kills and 14 digs while junior Emily Crowe had 10 kills. Rietema had a near triple-double with 40 assists, 11 digs, and nine kills. Zietse led the Knights with 20 digs.
Grasmeyer led the Flying Dutch with 21 kills while Lynch and Courtney Earles both added 10. Lauren Hazekamp led Hope in both assists and digs, tallying 46 and 17, respectively.
"I was really proud of (the team's) fight. We're still relatively experienced when it comes to situations like that because we haven't been in them that much, and the fact that they came back, that was what I was most proud of," said head coach Amber Warners.
After the match, the MIAA individual awards were announced with Rietema earning Most Valuable Player, Zietse winning Defensive Player of the Year, and Laura Danhoff named Freshman of the Year.
"It's a big honor, but it all comes from my team" said Rietema on being named MVP. "We talk about that a lot – individual honors don't really matter at all, it's all about the team and how you work together that matters in the end."
Rietema, Kamp, and Zietse were named All-MIAA First Team while Danhoff and Crowe were selected to the second team.
"All of the honors we received in the MIAA are very humbling," said Warners. "But, I think anyone on the team would rather take the wins and have no individual awards. We're practicing and fighting and spending all this time together, and from the 17th person who doesn't get in on, we're really all equal members of the group."
The Knights now look forward to the beginning of the NCAA Tournament. Calvin, likely to host a regional, will find out their opponent on Monday at 11 a.m. with the broadcasting of the NCAA Selection Show.