Story by Mark DeHaan/Photo by Craig Klomparens
The Knights returned to the DeVos Fieldhouse in Holland for the second straight year, reaching quarterfinal play in the NCAA III tournament.
Calvin's national quarterfinal opponent was the Beacons of the University of Massachusetts-Boston.
The Knights entered play with a record of 32-1. The Beacons came in at 24-15, but had played the second toughest schedule in the nation, facing nine NCAA Tournament teams in the regular season. UMass-Boston also came in as one of the youngest teams, with 14 underclassmen on its roster, including nine freshman.
In the end, Calvin's experience was too much for the Beacons as the Knights claimed a four set victory 25-23, 25-13, 24-26, 25-18 to advance to the national semifinals.
Calvin's first point of the match was a kill from senior Megan Rietema (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS), named National Player of the Year on Wednesday evening at the Division III volleyball banquet.
Unfazed by Calvin's experience, The Beacons reeled off four straight points, including two service aces, to take a 4-1 lead.
The Knights responded with seven straight, taking an 8-4 advantage, and strong serving of their own as senior Kristen Zietse (Grand Rapids/Grand Rapids Christian HS) had three service aces before UMass-Boston called a timeout.
The Beacons regained the lead late in the set at 23-22. But, a pair of errors on the part of UMass-Boston and a kill by Emily Crowe (Granger, IN/Mishawaka Penn HS) closed out the first set for the Knights, 25-23.
Sophomore Maggie Kamp (Orland Park, IL/Chicago Christian HS) had five kills in the first set to lead the Knights.
Calvin jumped out to 9-1 lead in set two.
Midway through the set, the Knights built their lead to 16-5 before a timeout from the Beacons.
Even after the stoppage of play, Calvin continued to roll, and UMass-Boston would come no closer as
the Knights claimed set two, 25-13.
Calvin held the Beacons to a hitting percentage of -.026 in the second set, digging out 18 attacks. In the third set, the teams played very closely to start as it was tied 10-10 early on. The Knights then claimed the next four points to take a 14-10 lead.
Calvin continued to pull away and took a 24-18 lead. With only one point left to score, Calvin could not finish the job and the Beacons responded with nine straight points to take the third set 26-24.
Not rattled after giving away set three, Calvin showed its composure by taking a 6-1 lead early in the fourth set.
Again, the Knights held a late lead at 20-13, but UMass-Boston took three straight points before head coach Amber Warners called a timeout.
Calvin then closed out the fourth set 25-18 to claim the four-set victory and advance to the national semifinals. The Knights hit .464 in the fourth set.
Kamp led the Calvin offense with 21 kills at a .436 percentage while junior Ellie Diepersloot (Madera, CA/Chowchilla HS) added ten kills. Rietema had 39 assists and 12 digs while Zietse paced the Knights with 19 digs.
Calvin will face seventh-ranked Emory University in the first semifinal on Friday evening. Emory (34-4) swept Eastern University earlier on Thursday 25-23, 25-18, 25-20, to advance. The semifinal encounter will be a rematch of the 2010 NCAA III Finals won by Calvin in four sets. Tickets for the Calvin/Emory match will be on sale at Calvin's Covenant Fine Arts Center box office 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. on Friday.
"I thought we showed a lot of grit tonight. There were some pressure filled moments, and we are relatively inexperienced on the floor in situations like that, but we did a nice job of holding our composure," said Warners. "Emory is one of the few teams in the country that is like us. They have an attacking setter and they're big and tall. I've said it all along to the team, we have to focus on what is on our side of the net. We're going to really focus point-for-point tomorrow and let the results take care of themselves."
Calvin is now 33-1 while UMass-Boston completes its season at 24-16. Friday's semifinal contest is set to begin at 5 p.m.