Volleyball wins league tourney, heads to NCAAs

By Ross Weener

and Andrea Schutter

Sports Editor and

Sports Associate Editor

Coming into the MIAA championship match versus Hope, Calvin did not need to look far for any motivation to win. Maybe it was Hope's 40 game league winning streak at the Dow Center, maybe it was the fact that Calvin hasn't beaten Hope at the Dow since 1993, or to top it off, maybe it was Hope senior Molly Henson's quote in the Holland Sentinel proclaiming, ``there is no doubt we (Hope) are going to win.'' After Calvin's convincing win in a three game sweep 30-21, 30-26, and 30-22 one can only wonder if Hope has had enough humble pie to last the Flying Dutch until next season. The Knights assured the Dutch of their final competitive match of the season, much to the disbelief of a large Dow Center crowd.

Calvin caused Hope to suffer its first three-game setback of the season in league play and only their second in three years. Calvin's victory over Hope marked its first victory over the Flying Dutch at the Dow Center since 1993, and the MIAA Tournament title was Calvin's second in the past three years as the Knights were also MIAA Tournament champs in 1999, beating Hope in five games. The rivalry continued in 2000 as Hope returned to claim the MIAA title with a four-game victory over Calvin in the tournament final.

Calvin seized momentum from the outset and never let it go as Hope failed to capture a run longer than three points the entire match. Calvin broke a 7-7 tie in the first game with a 10-1 run, and they kept the fire in game two, building a 22-16 lead to win 30-26. They struck early in the third game to go from a 7-5 deficit to 13-7 and were never seriously challenged, capturing the lead in game three as they ripped off four straight points and topped it off with a kill by freshman Kathy Brenneman. Brenneman later scored point 29 with a powerful block, adding to Calvin's win in game three. Calvin freshman Kara Kuipers proved to be a major threat at the net with eight kills and three blocks. Junior outside hitter Cassie Christopher also led the Calvin attack with 12 kills and eight digs while junior Melissa Pell earned 11 kills, four digs, one ace and one block. Freshman Kristin DeGroot pitched in eight kills and seven digs. Senior setter Sara Ahrenholz once again displayed incredible hustle, collecting 33 assists and seven digs. Calvin head coach Jerry Bergsma commended the team on their enthusiasm and determination in executing the tactics necessary to conquer the Dutch.

``We had outstanding serving and defense from the start,'' said Bergsma. ``It appeared that we frustrated them. Our offense was consistent, and we stopped them when we needed to.''

Calvin compiled five service aces while committing only five service errors. Hope, on the other had, had two service aces and 12 service errors. Overall, Calvin was able to take advantage of Hope's mistakes. In the last game, Calvin earned a 19-12 lead and refused to let Hope come within five points for the rest of the game.

``We're hoping to carry the momentum we built in the MIAA Tournament into the NCAA's,'' said Bergsma.

Calvin will return to action in NCAA III Tournament play on Thursday in Cincinnati, Ohio at the College of Mount St. Joseph. The sixth-ranked Lions of Mount St. Joseph will host the six-team regional that will include four nationally ranked teams. Calvin is seeded fifth (22-11) in the regional and will open the tournament with a first round match against 20th ranked and fourth-seeded Carnegie-Mellon (25-6) at 5:00 p.m. Thursday. Although Calvin and Carnegie-Mellon have never met in NCAA III Tournament play, they did compete in 1999 when the Knights defeated the Tartars at the John Carroll Invitational. This will be Carnegie-Mellon's first-ever trip to the NCAA III Tournament.

``We've been successful at focusing on doing one thing at a time and not looking ahead,'' said Bergsma. ``We're going to continue that same focus this week and see what happens. We need to have the same intensity and consistency that we had on Saturday.''

The Knights are optimistic about the tournament, and after a big win over arch-rival Hope College, they are ready for the challenge.