GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Calvin claimed an emotional 12-25, 27-25, 25-19, 25-15 victory over Ohio Northern Friday night in a second round match at Van Noord Arena.
With the win, Calvin advances to the regional final to face rival Hope Saturday at 7 p.m.
Friday's win marked the final match for legendary Ohio Northern head coach Kate Witte who had announced that the 2019 season would be her final season after a remarkable 29-year coaching career prior to the season.
With her senior-laden team fighting for every point, Ohio Northern bulled past Calvin in the opening set and then grabbed a 6-1 lead in set two. Point by point, Calvin pulled itself back into the match and with a kill by junior Madelyn Hall (Hudsonville, Mich./Hudsonville HS) and an attack error by Ohio Northern, pulled out a pivotal 27-25 set two win.
The two non-conference rivals then fought point for point in set three with the teams tied at 18 midway through the set. A 5-0 run fueled by three Kelsey Smith (Vienna, Va./Madison HS) kills put the Knights up 23-18. Smith closed out the set with a service ace through the hear of the Ohio Northern defense.
Calvin broke away in set four with a 10-2 run to take a 20-12 lead after the teams had been tied at 10. A service ace by freshman Heidi Westra (Clarendon Hills, Il./Timothy Christian HS) and a match-clinching kill by Westra concluded the night.
At the conclusion of the match, Witte was given a standing ovation by the Calvin and Ohio Northern fanbase. She concludes her coaching career with an overall won-loss record of 742-241.
Smith had a huge night for the Knights with 18 kills and a .318 attack percentage. Senior Sarah DeVries (Grand Rapids, Mich./Northpointe Christian HS) was a force with 15 kills, 25 assists, seven digs, two block solos and five block assists. Westra had 10 kills and six digs. Sophomore Anna Schriemer (Vicksburg, Mich./Vicksburg HS) had 21 assists and 14 digs. Freshman Aubrey Wrubel (Jenison, Mich./Jenison HS) tallied 25 digs.
COACHES COMMENT: "It's an emotional night for me because I have so much respect for Kate Witte and her program," said Calvin head volleyball coach Amber Warners. "She is a trusted profesionall colleague and a close friend. She does things the right way with her players and her program. I am thrilled with our win but it is bittersweet to have to come against Kate. Regarding our team, it was a bit of a blur tonight. I think the big thing is that we settled down our nerves and started receiving and passing the ball better in the second half. After that everyone just starting stepping up."
Witte also had words of thanks to her team and Calvin after the match. "I thought my team played their hearts out," said Witte. "I couldn't have asked more from them. We changed up a few things with our game plan which I thought was a good one. Amber figured out what we were doing and made the adjustments. They have players that put a lot of pressure on you and that started to come to the forefront as the match went along. I have great admiration and respect not only for Amber and her program but also for Calvin. They do things the right way here. When I saw the tournament draw, I knew this matchup might happen. If my last match wasn't going to be at Ohio Northern, I'm glad it was at Calvin."
NEXT UP: Calvin will host rival Hope Saturday in the regional final at 7 p.m. Hope defeated Muskingum in a thrilling five-set match earlier on Friday.