The Calvin women's volleyball team will seek to blend a mix of veteran talent and youthful enthusiasm to create a winning combination in 2018.
Under the direction of head coach Amber Warners, Calvin returns 10 letterwinners from last year's team that finished 30-4 overall and reached the semifinals of the NCAA III Tournament for the sixth time in the last eight years.
In addition, the Knights welcome in nine first-year players into the program.
"It's an interesting mix of players that has me really excited," said Warners who led the Knights to their seventh consecutive MIAA regular season title a year as well as their sixth MIAA tournament crown in the last seven years. "I like the leadership with our returning players but I also love the enthusiasm that our first-year players bring to the table. We have a talented group. The challenge now is to grow together, support one another and take it one point, one set and one match at a time."
Calvin's offensive attack will feature senior Anna Kamp (Orland Park, Il./Chicago Christian HS) who was named the 2017 AVCA Division III National Player of the Year as well as a 2017 AVCA Division III First Team All-American. An outside hitter, Kamp averaged 4.14 kills and 2.43 digs-per-set while hitting at a .274 clip. Kamp is one of three seniors on the 2018 roster along with libero Keilahna Castillo (Grandville, Mich./Grandville HS) and Rachel Herrera (Shererville, Ind./Illiana Christian HS)
Castillo was a second team All-MIAA selection last fall while also earning AVCA Division III Great Lakes All-Region honorable mention honors. She led Calvin in digs (396) and was second in service aces (56) last year while also collecting 122 assists. Herrera is a valuable back row player. She compiled 31 digs, three assists and three service aces in 2017.
Junior middle hitter Sarah DeVries (Grand Rapids, Mich./Northpointe Christian HS) is a returning All-American. DeVries was named to the 2017 AVCA Division III All-America second team last November after 3.28 kills, 1.73 digs, 0.97 blocks and 4.1 points a game last year. She also tallied 36 service aces. DeVries will transition this season to a setting spot - a position she played in high school.
Junior Ally Fea (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Mechanicsburg HS) has been a two-year starter as a right side hitter. She averaged 1.09 kills and 0.84 blocks-per-set as a sophomore. Abby Gorter (Woodbury, Mn./New Life Academy) and Gabi Allread (Sylvan Lake, Mich./West Bloomfield HS) round out the junior class. Gorter is a defensive specialist while Alread is an outside hitter.
The sophomore class includes setter Janelle Veldhuizen (Byron Center, Mich./South Christian HS), middle-hitter Sydney Segard (Hudsonville, Mich./Hudsonville HS), middle hitter McKenna Covey (Costa Mesa, Ca./Estancia) and middle hitter Courtney Vanderhoning (Byron Center, Mich./South Christian HS). Segard appeared in 28 matches as a freshman in 2017 and continued to build up momentum as the season progressed. She averaged 0.98 kills and 0.68 blocks-per-set in 2017. Veldhuizen and Covey saw action in 2017 while Vanderhoning sat out the 2017 campaign due to injury but is ready to compete for time this fall.
The freshman class includes defensive specialist Crysta Ott (Grandville, Mich./Grandville HS), setter Anna Schriemer (Vicksburg, Mich./Vicksburg HS), outside hitter Grace Kellogg (Belleville, Mich./Plymouth Christian Academy), setter Ellie Westrate (Sun Prairie, Wisc./Lakeside Lutheran HS), outside hitter Kelsey Smith (Vienna, Va./Madison HS), outside hitter Ellie Dykstra (Spencerville, Ind./Leo), outside hitter Madelyn Hall (Hudsonville, Mich./Hudsonville HS) and middle hitter Nicole Williams (Boulder, Co./Boulder HS).
"Our freshmen bring a lot of energy to our program," said Warners. "Every one of them has the potential to break into our starting lineup this year. They are talented and they are enthusiastic."
Calvin enters the 2018 season ranked second in the AVCA Division III Top 25 poll. The Knights have also been picked to repeat as league champions in the MIAA preseason coaches' poll.
The Knights will open their season at the Ithaca College Bomber Invitational. While there the Knights will face eighth-ranked Ithaca and 17th-ranked Juniata.
The MIAA will feature a single-round robin schedule in 2018. Prior to that, the league will feature a non-conference MIAA Crossover Tournament September 7 and 8 with Calvin and Hope hosting the tournament.
Calvin is also scheduled to host the Midwest Invitational October 12 and 13, facing Susquehanna, 19th-ranked Ohio Northern, Elmhurst and Thomas More. Calvin is also slated to compete at a tournament at DePauw University September 14 and 15, facing (receiving national poll votes) DePauw, Rose-Hulman and 13th-ranked Illinois Wesleyan.
A non-conference home match against the University of Chicago is scheduled for September 18 which is receiving votes in the preseason AVCA Division III Top 25 poll. On October 19 and 20, Calvin competes at the Elmhurst Invitational. At the tournament, the Knights will face 14th-ranked Carthage as well as Wisconsin-Whitewater and Aurora. Wisconsin-Whitewater and Aurora are both receiving votes in the AVCA Division III Top 25 poll.
Calvin officially opens its MIAA schedule on September 26 at Kalamazoo. The Knights will face rival Hope twice during the regular season with its September 22 home match against the Flying Dutch a non-conference competition while its October 26 contest at Hope is a league match.
"Our schedule is very challenging," said Warners. "We face many of the top teams throughout the NCAA III Great Lakes, Central and Midwest Regions. The single-round league schedule has allowed us to face a wider variety of non-conference opponents. The flip side of that is that with our league going to a single round schedule, each league match will carry an even higher level of urgency. We are excited for the season and we are excited to grow together as a team. It has been something we have been looking forward to for many months."