Volleyball finishes second in nation


Photo courtesy of calvinknights.com

For the fifth time in eight years, the women’s volleyball team finished among the top two teams in the country.

The quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament began on November 15 in Pittsburgh, PA. After a hard-fought four-set win against Aurora University, Calvin moved on to play Wisconsin Eau-Claire in what ended up becoming one of the most exciting matches the Knights played all season. After dropping the first set 23-25, Calvin won the next two sets 25-22 and 25-17. A Wisconsin-Eau Claire win in the fourth set pushed the match to a decisive fifth set to 15 points. Several lead changes later, the score was tied 13-13. Back-to-back kills from Anna Kamp ended the match, securing Calvin’s place in the national championship for the fifth time in eight years.

After these thrilling matches against formidable opponents, the Knights ran into an obstacle that they could not overcome. Emory University defeated Calvin in three sets, winning their second national title in program history.

Even though the team was unable to win their fourth national championship since 2010, this season was one of the most successful campaigns during the 17-year Amber Warners era. The 33 wins by the team this year is tied for the third most under Amber Warners, and the 0.94 winning percentage is tied for fourth most in the era.

The Knights will be graduating three seniors this year: Anna Kamp, Keilahna Castillo and Rachel Herrera.

The youngest of five sisters to play for Calvin volleyball, three of which had won AVCA Division III National Player of the Year, Kamp had big shoes to fill when she came to Calvin. Her exceptional play over the past four years has cemented her place as an all-time Calvin great, as she won MIAA MVP twice, was named all-MIAA four times, was named AVCA Great Lakes All-Region three times and joined her sisters as the fourth Kamp to win AVCA Division III National Player of the Year.

Castillo had a tremendous career at Calvin as well, as she was named all-MIAA three times, AVCA Great Lakes All-Region once, and 2016 MIAA Defensive Player of the Year. Castillo’s incredible serves and willingness to put her body on the line will likely be missed in years to come.

While these seniors played a large role in the success of 2018, the return of players like Sarah Devries, Kelsey Smith and Ally Fea, among others, should make for an exciting season next fall.