By Jeff VanderPloeg
Calvin University hosted day one of the Midwest Tournament featuring Calvin, Ithaca, Hope, Elmhurst, and Carthage. In the nightcap, The Knights defeated the Bombers of Ithaca College in three sets, winning 25-21, 25-9, and 25-23.
The Knights came into the game ranked second nationally, but Ithaca was ready for the challenge. Reagan Stone and Camryn O'Leary set the tone offensively for the Bombers, each recording multiple kills as Ithaca jumped out to an 11-6 lead. Calvin fought back though, tying the set at 17 while recording 6 of their points on blocks from Sarah DeVries and Ally Fea. Despite some sloppy service errors, Calvin took the set lead 22-20 and Ithaca took a timeout. Calvin would control the rest of the set, winning 25-21 off of a Kelsey Smith kill.
Calvin came out hot in the second set, winning the first three points and causing Ithaca head coach Johan Dulfer to take a timeout. DeVries continued to set the tone with two kills as the Knights built the advantage to 8-3. Anna Schriemer contributed some nice sets and a tip to get it to 14-7. Grace Kellogg then took over, with three aces in a five point stretch. Calvin rolled to a 25-9 victory, taking a 2-0 set lead.
The Bombers were back to battle in the third set. Led by a heavy dosage of attacks from Stone, Ithaca went ahead 8-4 and Calvin called a timeout. McKenna Covey had the answer the Knights needed though, with several blocks bringing the Knights back within one. With Ithaca leading 15-14, Fea and DeVries showed up to the block party that Covey had just started. Multiple blocks fueled a Calvin rally as the Knights took the lead, 18-16. The Bombers clawed back to tie it up at 23, taking advantage of Calvin mistakes and scoring a nice ace from Delaney Runyon. Calvin Labero Aubrey Wrubel came up huge for the Knights with big digs in each of the final two points. Devries got the kill in each, and the Knights came back to win the set 25-23 and the match in three sets.
Heidi Westra served the ball well for Calvin in this game, leading the Knights with four aces. McKenna Covey also provided a spark, accounting for five blocks. DeVries, Smith, and Kellogg led the Knights with 11, 8, and 6 kills respectively. Wrubel led in digs with 12. The difference in the stats was in the blocks, the Knights out-blocking the Bombers 28-6.
COACHES COMMENT: "I was really pleased with how we blocked tonight," Calvin head coach Amber Warners said. "I haven't seen a team of ours block like that in a long time, and I thought that was the difference in the match. We have to keep learning how to just stay loose, play free, and let go of the outcome and the pressure. We're going to keep working on that."
UP NEXT: The Knights have two matches tomorrow, both at Van Noord Arena. Calvin will play Elmhurst at 10:30 to start the day. At 2:30, the Knights square off against fourth-ranked Carthage in a matchup of top-four teams in the nation.