Grand Rapids, Mich. - Calvin captured its eighth MIAA Tournament Title in the last nine years, defeating Hope 25-18, 16-25, 25-20, 25-16 Saturday night inside Van Noord Arena.
Saturday's contest featured a matchup of nationally-ranked teams as Calvin came in ranked third while Hope was ranked 10th.
After splitting the regular season series in volleyball, Calvin was able to win the school's second championship of the day in four sets.
Calvin (23-2) looked to start fast after a slow start hurt the Knights in the home loss to Hope two weeks prior.
On Saturday, the Knights got out to a 12-8 lead with Madelyn Hall providing three kills already at that point. Great digs from Aubrey Wrubel and Anna Schriemer helped the Knights go on a 4-1 run to go up 16-9. The Knights held off a comeback from the Flying Dutch late, winning the set 25-18.
Hope (22-6) answered in the second set, McKenna Otto leading the way with a couple of early kills. Molly Ligon also sparked Hope with a block, and the Flying Dutch built a 14-10 lead. Calvin was unable to get the set any closer, and head coach Amber Warners called timeout when the Knights were down 21-15. Ligon kept firing out of the timeout, pushing Hope to the set two victory, 25-16.
Set three began with very competitive points, neither team gaining the momentum. Calvin scrapped a few points together with kills from Kelsey Smith and Sarah DeVries. The Knights pulled ahead to a 20-15 advantage thanks to nice blocking from Ally Fea and good attacks from the middle of the net. Calvin went on to win the third set 25-20, taking a 2-1 advantage in the match.
Despite it being a must-win set for Hope, Calvin dominated the early moments of the fourth set. A Grace Kellogg ace gave Calvin a 3-1 advantage, and then the Knights exploded to make it 10-4 which led to a Hope timeout. Ligon and Otto each provided kills to get the Flying Dutch within four, 14-10. Calvin then strung together six straight points including kills form DeVries and blocks from Fea. Calvin dominated the fourth set, winning 25-16, and the Knights won yet another MIAA tournament.
Madelyn Hall had one of her best games for the Knights, recording seven kills. "The energy from the crowd and from our bench is hard to beat," Hall said of the intensity brought by the mix of a championship and a rivalry.
DeVries spoke of the defensive effort that players like Heidi Westra, Wrubel, and Schriemer displayed. "This week, we focused on that mentality of not letting the ball hit the floor," DeVries said.
The Knights excelled defensively, out digging Hope 65-51. DeVries led the Knights in that category with 18 digs while Wrubel added 14. Devries added 16 kills and 30 assists to record the triple double. Smith and Westra tallied ten and eight kills respectively.
COACHES COMMENT: "We served way more aggressively and we didn't take them for granted," Calvin head coach Amber Warners said. "Losing a rivalry match is a big pill to swallow, and it served as a great motivator for us."
UP NEXT: Calvin advances to the NCAA III Tournament for the 16th consecutive year. The Knights will find out their NCAA III Tournament destination on Monday at 12:30 p.m. (EST) on NCAA.com