GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The No. 1 Calvin women's volleyball team closed out the regular season with a three-set win over Alma to claim the MIAA regular season crown outright.
The Knights swept the Scots 25-17, 25-16, 25-19 to earn their eighth straight conference championship.
The Knights improve to 25-1 overall with a perfect 8-0 conference mark. Alma falls to 18-7, finishing 6-2 in the MIAA.
Calvin swung for a .351 hitting percentage, while the Scots only hit .074.
Scoring was evenly-balanced early in the first set until Calvin pulled ahead 9-6. The Scots battled back to even the score. The Knights pushed back, stringing together four straight points behind the serve of freshman Grace Kellogg (Belleville, Mich./Plymouth Christian Academy). Calvin continued to roll to a 17-12 lead before Alma tried to break up momentum with a timeout. The Knights extended their lead to eight points, however, completing a six-point run. Alma matched Calvin's points for the remainder of the set but ran out of time as the Knights took a 25-17 set one win.
Calvin carried its momentum to set two, jumping out to a quick 5-0 lead. The Scots chipped the deficit to two, but Calvin surged ahead once again amassing seven straight points to lead 15-6. Alma had no answer for the Knights' dominant offense as a trio of Calvin kills gave the home team a commanding 19-7 lead. The Scots staged a late comeback effort to shave Calvin's lead to seven, but it came up short and the Knights took set two 25-16.
The Knights built a 10-4 lead in the third set to force an Alma timeout. Calvin held its lead as the two teams exchanged points. Leading 15-11, the Knights scored three unanswered points before the Scots called their second timeout. A late surge by the made it a four-point set, Calvin leading 23-19. A block by senior Anna Kamp (Orland Park, Ill./Chicago Christian) and junior Sarah DeVries (Grand Rapids, Mich./Northpointe Christian) and a kill by DeVries sealed the set and match victories for the Knights.
Kamp led the Knights with a game-high 15 kills, also collecting 10 digs. DeVries had a solid all-around game, earning 25 assists, 10 kills, four block assists and three service aces. Freshman Ellie Westrate (Sun Prairie, Wisc./Lakeside Lutheran) pumped out 15 assists, while freshman Kelsey Smith (Vienna, Va./Madison) chipped in eight kills. Senior libero Keilahna Castillo (Grandville, Mich./Grandville) finished with 11 digs.
With her 15 kills on Saturday, Anna Kamp moved past Kara Kuipers, Rhonda Volkers and Molly Krikke on the Calvin career list. With 1,518 kills in her career, Kamp is now fourth on the Calvin career list, trailing only Erika Van Stralen (1,522) and older sisters Maggie Kamp (1,782) and Rebecca Kamp (1,868).
The victory completed a 3-0 week for the Knights as they defeated Olivet on Wednesday, Hope on Friday and Alma on Saturday.
"I'm really happy with how the week went. It was not an easy week," said Calvin women's volleyball coach Amber Warners. "We've been battling a lot of nagging injuries and I thought we did a really nice job last night and then not having a letdown today. I thought our mentality was good and I liked how we stayed relaxed. I thought our defense in particular, was very good."
Warners also commented on winning an eighth consecutive MIAA regular season title including their 10th under her leadership. "Winning a conference championship never gets old and it is something we will never take for granted," said Warners. "It's great for our program and is something we strive to achieve every year."
Warners also praised the role of her three seniors – Keilahna Castillo, Rachel Herrera (Shererville, Ind./Illiand Christian HS) and Anna Kamp (Orland Park, Il./Chicago Christian HS) - who played in their final regular season home match on Saturday. "They (senior class) have been such a joy to coach and I have loved watching them embrace leadership roles this year as seniors. They all have such bubbly personalities and are so fun to be around. I am extremely grateful for their leadership and dedication."
The Knights are back in action next weekend as they host the MIAA Tournament with the semifinals set for Friday and the finals on Saturday. Calvin will be the top seed in the conference tournament.
Calvin will host the semifinals next Friday and the finals on Saturday. Calvin will meet either Albion or Trine in one semifinal match on Friday with Hope meeting either Adrian or Alma in the first semifinal. Friday's winners will then advance to play in the MIAA Tournament final Saturday. All three matches will be played inside Van Noord Arena.