DIII Women's Volleyball

A source for NCAA Division III women's volleyball info and opinion, with a focus on the Midwest and Central regions

Archive for November 2010

Calvin’s Warners, WashU’s Rodman named coaches of the year

Calvin’s Amber Warners was named the AVCA national Coach of the Year yesterday. Warners coached the Knights to their first national title on Monday after winning their first regional title since 1992. Warners is 259-56 in nine seasons at Calvin.

Washington’s Charles Rodman was named the AVCA national Assistant Coach of the Year. Rodman’s role the past two seasons at WashU has been training the defensive specialists, most notably Player of the Year candidate Kelly Pang. Rodman has been the top assistant on the Bears’ staff since 2005.

AVCA coach of the year release

-Ricky Nelson

Written by Ricky Nelson

November 24, 2010 at 7:53 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Final 2010 AVCA poll

Guess which teams are No. 1 and No. 2.

It took the entire season, but the AVCA pollsters and I found a consensus after three months. All’s well that ends well.

AVCA final poll
My final top 10

-Ricky Nelson

Written by Ricky Nelson

November 24, 2010 at 7:41 am

Posted in Uncategorized

My final 2010 top 10

The final AVCA poll comes out tomorrow (my rank last week, AVCA last week).

1. (NR, 10) Calvin 32-4
2. (2, 1) Emory 36-5
3. (3, T3) Washington 35-4
4. (4, T3) Juniata 34-6
5. (5, 5) Christopher Newport 38-3
6. (1, 2) Wittenberg 32-3
7. (9, 8) Eastern 30-5
8. (NR, 12) St. Thomas 31-7
9. (NR, 14) UW-Platteville 33-4
10. (6, 11) St. Olaf 31-5
Dropped out: No. 7 (#7 AVCA) Carthage 31-8, No. 8 (#6 AVCA) Hope 27-5, No. 10 (#9 AVCA) Colorado 30-7

-Ricky Nelson

Written by Ricky Nelson

November 22, 2010 at 4:19 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Rietema dumps Emory for Calvin’s first title

Calvin 3, Emory 1
The Calvin block stymied the vaunted Emory attack nearly all day, leading the Knights to their first volleyball championship. The Calvin 6-foot lineup not only created problems on the defensive side of the net, but the Knights, national leaders in hitting percentage, also hit .300 for the match, including .362 in their three set wins, against a porous Emory block and too-often slow back row.

But Calvin would not be the champion if not for the short memory and heady play of its star freshman setter. Set scores were 25-14, 25-20, 19-25, 25-23.

Set 4
The fourth set was worthy of a title match. Emory was a step slow again in the latter stages of the set to allow Calvin to open a 20-17 lead on a Rebecca Kamp tip. The Eagles closed to within 22-21 on a CC attack error and again at 23-22 on a Breanah Bourque light cross shot that Knights’ freshman setter Megan Rietema simply should have handled. To compound the error, Rietema committed a double that allowed the Eagles to tie it at 23. Not only is Rietema a freshman, but she happens to be the AVCA Freshman of the Year. Rietema showed why she earned that honor and atoned for the miscues by going on two to Emory’s back-left corner on the next point to set up championship point. And wouldn’t you know it, shortly after a nice dig in the sequence by CC libero Kelly Peterson, Rietema dumped the winning point on two to the left side of the Emory court, past a diving McCall. From goat to hero in the span of four consecutive points. That’s the stuff from movies. What a performance. What a set. And what a great match to close the 2010 season. One team had stars that made star, clutch plays. The other team didn’t.

Set 1
Calvin showed why it led the nation in hitting percentage in a lopsided Set 1. The Knights hit winners everywhere while Emory couldn’t keep the ball on the court. CC didn’t have an attack error and hit .609 in the first set. EU committed six attack errors and hit .115. Calvin libero Kelly Peterson was up for the challenge in the opener, digging nearly every attack that came her way. The Emory block was missing in action early for the second consecutive match. The difference in hitting percentage was enough, but add it all up, and it was no contest.

Set 2
Not much changed from Set 1 besides Calvin coming down to earth on the attack. Through two sets the vaunted Emory attack had just 21 kills against the 6-footers at the net. CC’s Kayla Hollenbeck and Renee DeHaan (mostly Hollenbeck) came up with a momentum-changing double block to create some separation late in the set, and the EU passing and setting was off. Where CC was making plays all over the court, the EU block was absent, the EU back row was a step slow and the athletic hitters couldn’t get anything going. The most telling play of the set was a 7 MPH Calvin roll shot that found the floor in front of AVCA National Player of the Year Amelia McCall. Meanwhile, Calvin had 16 kills and displayed steady passing and setting.

Set 3
You see it all the time – the team that goes up two sets has a letdown. But this is the national championship, and that was a complete meltdown by Calvin. After collecting 30 kills in the first two sets, the Knights had five in Set 3. And that’s when Calvin got a swing as CC only had four errors. To say the Knights were not in system is an understatement. Discombobulated is more like it, and they got nothing going for 44 points. Emory took advantage with decent passing and an improved block thanks in part to Calvin’s limited options.

Outside hitter Erin VanderPlas led the champions with 13 kills, followed by middles Renee DeHaan and Rebecca Kamp with 13 and 12, respectively. DeHaan and Kamp, the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, also combined for seven block assists. Eventual hero Rietema had 37 assists, eight kills, seven digs and four blocks. Calvin’s top five attackers hit .250 or better.

Bourque once again led Emory with a match-high 16 kills. All-America combo Amelia McCall and Jessica McAlvany combined for another 24 of EU’s 49 kills, but the star duo also hit a collective .143 against the Calvin block. Eagles All-America setter Natalie Schonefeld had a match-high 45 assists. Just two of Emory’s top five attack options hit better than .186.

-Ricky Nelson

Written by Ricky Nelson

November 22, 2010 at 4:16 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Who will win?

In this corner we have No. 1 Emory with the high-flying offense, good ball control and experience. In that corner we have No. 10 Calvin with the tall blockers, composure and high hitting percentage. Who do you like?

Here’s another reminder that the championship has been moved to 2 p.m. on Monday to accomodate Calvin’s request to not play on Sunday.

-Ricky Nelson

Written by Ricky Nelson

November 20, 2010 at 9:14 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

#1 Emory eliminates defending champion WashU

Emory 3, Washington 1
After a slow start, No. 1 Emory hammered its way to a four-set win over No. 3 Washington. Set scores were 18-25, 29-27, 25-21, 25-20. It’s the second Emory win over the defending champion in three tries this season and snaps WashU’s 33-match home winning streak.

There was little resistance at the net when both teams were in system in Set 1. Washington was in system more often than Emory in the opener because of WashU’s superior service pressure. The runs came when EU started its offense 10 feet from the net. Is there anything left to say about WashU All-America libero Kelly Pang? Let’s just all agree that Pang is the best in the nation and leave it at that. While there wasn’t much happening at the net on defense, both back rows were on fire early, highlighted by Pang’s superlative digging, which gave Bears All-America setter Marilee Fisher several hitting options. WU freshman Tessa Blood’s outside hitting was key in the first set. EU was running its patented right-side slides and was bludgeoning attempts from the left, but Blood, Drew Hargrave and Meghan Byrne from WashU varied their shots to great effect.

The Emory block punched the clock a little late, and the Eagles started to get touches in Set 2. EU opened up a nice early lead that the hitters coughed up with unforced errors. Down 20-18, WashU’s block and, guess who (Pang, of course), led the charge for a 22-21 lead. Tied several times late, neither team could close out the set for a while due to service errors, but EU’s Breanah Bourque found a hitting line-like free middle net on a WashU defensive breakdown and scorched the set winner down the middle for a 29-27 win.

Sloppy play on both sides early in Set 3 allowed both teams to stay within a point or two of each other. Hitting and service errors, loose passing, back row sieves and shaky setting were not much of a problem since both teams were guilty of it. WashU continued its poor play while Emory tightened things up and played very well in the latter portion of the set on its way to a 17-kill, two attack error showing. EU’s Ali Wright came up with a key wheat-among-the-chaff effort with a key solo block to put the Eagles up 21-18, and EU handled it from there.

Emory’s receive was on point in Set 4, beating WashU at its own ball-control game. For the Bears to win, they had to be the better passing team. That wasn’t the case. If the EU blocking and back row are also going like they were late, the top-ranked team is hard to stop. The Eagles were bombing away. The Bears simply couldn’t pop up every ball, but they almost did. Not to be overshadowed by her All-America counterpart, Emory libero Molly Landers was fantastic in the clinching set. But the stars of Set 4 and the match were two EU All-Americans, setter Natalie Schonefeld and middle Breanah Bourque, who recorded the clinching kill.

EU had a whopping 69 kills against WashU’s weakness, the block. Bourque led four Eagles in double-figure kills with a match-high 24 kills on .435 hitting while Schonefeld had 56 assists, 13 digs and seven kills. Those two and Alena Ransom (10K, 1E, 24A) were great all night. The Eagles don’t often get credit for their passing game, but a good serving team like Washington only aced them three times. Anyone who saw the EU receive in the last two sets knows that it can be yet another strength to this well-rounded team.

Pang led all players with 30 digs in another masterful performance for the Bears. Blood led three WashU players in double figures with 15 kills. Fisher had 48 assists but was also guilty of six errors.

I’m convinced that if you don’t have much of a block, you can’t beat Emory. With apologies to Christopher Newport, WashU may be the best digging team in the country. If the Bears can’t stick around with the dig, I’m not sure any team can. The Bears block was decent, but it had to be much, much better than it was.

The good news for those of us without a rooting interest other than seeing a good match, Calvin can potentially throw a good block at Emory on Monday. I repeat, Monday, because Calvin does not play on Sundays and was granted an NCAA waiver to honor that request. The new start time for the championship match is scheduled for 2 p.m. CST.

-Ricky Nelson

Written by Ricky Nelson

November 20, 2010 at 8:46 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Calvin pulls off epic comeback to oust Juniata

Calvin 3, Juniata 2
The tall, youthful Knights won a wild, improbable ragtag war of attrition over the experienced Eagles, who couldn’t apply the knockout blows when they had multiple chances. Set scores were 14-25, 17-25, 25-23, 25-22, 15-12. It was a battle of blocking and hitting versus hitting and serving. Hitting and blocking was the winner.

The Calvin win creates a conundrum. Will the Knights play on Sunday or will the NCAA move the championship match? EDIT: An anonymous comment says that the championship will be played on Monday at 2 p.m.

Yet another Drew Barnhart service run highlighted an ugly first set. Barnhart put Juniata up 14-5 on a mix of serves that forced Calvin to burn its two timeouts. Barnhart’s serving gave St. Thomas fits yesterday, and Calvin didn’t fare any better today. The Knights closed to within 15-10, but neither team got into an offensive flow due to horrible ball control. It became a tip and freeball festival that didn’t allow the formidable Calvin block to assert itself. If the Knights can’t block, they must pass and dig. Calvin didn’t do any of those three in the first set.

Set 2 was a repeat, only this time it was a Steph Strauss late service run that broke it open for Juniata. Where was the Calvin block with all of those 6-footers? The Calvin receiving and digging was absent again. Strauss’s dumps may have slowed the Knights’ block, but the offense needs a pass or two to have a chance.

The Calvin wheels fell off early in Set 3. The Eagles service game ate up the Calvin receive, but then the Knights woke up. It took Calvin 2 2/3 sets to get going, but the team that knocked off Wittenberg and smoked St. Thomas arrived late in Set 3. It’s amazing what a few passes and digs can do. The blocks suddenly came in bunches, the swings were looser and Calvin seemed to relax. Juniata didn’t help itself with ball control, but Calvin started to believe and the Knight faithful came alive.

The Calvin block sprinted out to a 6-0 lead in Set 4, but JC stormed back to tie it at 10 because Calvin, again, was tardy in the back row and leaky on the receive. The spurty play left Calvin without a timeout when it was 16-12 Juniata. Calvin reversed momentum behind its best sequence of the day to claim an 18-17 lead, forcing Juniata’s last timeout. That’s when Juniata took a turn in falling apart. JC miscommunication on the receive and attack errors on simple attempts resulted in a major meltdown at the end of the set, giftwrapping a 25-22 win for Calvin.

Calvin was up 8-7 at the side change. If Strauss didn’t dump or win a joust, Juniata couldn’t gain many points and the Knights extended the lead to 10-7. The Eagles kept trying to go through the middle, but the Calvin block answered the bell for a 12-8 advantage. Calvin DS Jen Pluymert scooped what I’m assuming are the two biggest digs of her life on consecutive points to give the Knights an insurmountable 14-9 lead. A lefthanded tooled dump from freshman setter Megan Rietema completed the improbable Calvin comeback, 15-12.

Both teams hit very well on the stat sheet, but that will happen when there are so many freeballs and overpasses. Calvin out-hit Juniata .291 to .251, but the Knights only had 56 kills with two hitters having 10+ kills. Calvin made up for the disparity in kills with a 13-5 edge in blocks despite getting aced 16 times.

The Eagles recorded 70 kills and the whopping 16 aces, with four players registering double figure kills.

Juniata outside Drew Barnhart led all players with 19 kills and six aces. All-America middle Rebecca Kamp led Calvin with 17 kills and a match-high 10 total blocks. JC All-America setter Steph Strauss had 53 assists, eight kills and 17 digs. CC All-America setter Megan Rietema had 38 assists, eight kills, eight digs and 3.5 blocks.

I’m having a tough time digesting what in the wide world of sports just happened. Momentum is a funny thing. It was amazing how the Knights fought after playing so poorly in the first two sets.

-Ricky Nelson

Written by Ricky Nelson

November 20, 2010 at 5:55 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

What if Calvin wins?

Calvin does not play on Sundays, so will the NCAA move the championship to Monday if the Knights beat Juniata this afternoon? The NCAA accomodated Calvin and Hope by moving regionals to Thursday through Saturday. Is the championship schedule likewise malleable? That’s a subplot to consider as first serve approaches.

UPDATE: Calvin won and will play Emory for the national title on Monday at 2 p.m. CST.

-Ricky Nelson

Written by Ricky Nelson

November 20, 2010 at 3:34 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

WashU cruises past NYU

Washington 3, New York 0
No. 3 Washington once again displayed stellar ball control in a 25-16, 25-16, 25-10 sweep over No. 15 New York in front of a large partisan crowd on the Bears’ home court. It was a complete match by the defending champs over a conference foe.

Kelly Pang, Tricia Brandt and Lauren Budde passed and dug; Marilee Fisher set fairly well; Meghan Byrne and Brandt had their usual service runs; Kaia Schwartz and Budde blocked; and Budde, Byrne, Drew Hargrave and Tessa Blood had nice hitting matches. It was the old WashU steamroller in full effect.

Conversely, NYU couldn’t get anything going. As a result the Violets hit a paltry .019 with three players hitting positive. NYU could never find the reset button. Not much went right whether it was the passing, setting, blocking, digging or attacking. Credit to WashU for the win, but NYU didn’t help itself. After seeing NYU play very well a couple times this season, I’m guessing the Violets feel they gave this away.

It was by no means a flawless win for WashU (I thought the block could have been even better), but it was a definitive win. Besides, the Red and Green hasn’t been a great blocking team for several years, and that hasn’t stopped them from winning championships.

-Ricky Nelson

Written by Ricky Nelson

November 19, 2010 at 9:37 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

#1 EU outlasts #5 CNU

Emory 3, Christopher Newport 2
What a match. Not the prettiest match at times but a tense and competitive one that the No. 1 team won 20-25, 25-20, 25-23, 23-25, 15-11. It seemed that most rallies went Emory’s way. EU would crush four attempts, CNU would make four incredible digs and points would end with a CNU error or an EU tip. CNU’s defense was amazing, probably the best I’ve seen this year and equal to UW Oshkosh’s last season.

As far as not being a pretty match, there were 24 service errors and 47 attack errors in the first four sets. CNU’s middles, Caitlyn Jansen and Bailey Jensen, provided most of the Captains’ offense, but the outsides combined to hit about .100. Captains libero Abby Hogge put on a digging clinic and the middles combined for 7.5 blocks, but the power game of Emory shined in the end. Where CNU relied on tips and rolls in the fifth set, the Eagles played their athletic brand of high-flying, devil-may-care volleyball. And it paid off.

After laying low in the first three sets, EU’s Breanah Bourque took over the last two sets, collecting 12 of her match-high 19 kills, many of which were absolutely mashed, in the last two stanzas. Credit goes to the Eagles, who persevered when other teams may have folded due to the defense they faced. Not many teams will scoop and block the number of EU balls that CNU did.

This match didn’t have the feel of a normal national quarterfinal, where matches can sometimes be formalities. There were a lot of long points and spurts of incredible play between two evenly matched teams. It’s a shame these two had to meet on Friday instead of Saturday or Sunday. We can only hope the semis and finals are this competitive.

EDIT: EU setter Natalie Schonefeld played through a sickness and took off a few points to, um, relieve her sickness, I guess is a nice way to put it. I wouldn’t write anything more about her “sickness” because I’m sure we all saw it, but head coach Jenny McDowell said in the press conference that Schonefeld is at a hospital getting an IV. So that’s a side plot to follow tomorrow afternoon.

-Ricky Nelson

Written by Ricky Nelson

November 19, 2010 at 7:52 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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