DIII Champs: Tommies Unhorse Knights

Mark Brown
Senior libero Kia Johnson hoists the DIII trophy in the air as the Tommies celebrate their victory.

With a Division III National Championship record 3,517 fans in attendance, the Calvin College Knights led 2-0 in the final match against St. Thomas. Only 40 minutes from the Knights’ campus in Grand Rapids, Mich., the majority of the audience packed into the gym at Hope College was rooting for the team in black. Calvin probably felt pretty confident in their impending victory – the first two sets weren’t even very close: 25-13 and 25-17.

Something happened in that third set though. St.Thomas Head Coach Thanh Pham later suggested that junior defensive specialist McKenna Reagan might have been the turning point catalyst. Besides adding five kills after coming in off the bench in the third game, the transfer from Wayne State brought a determined and upbeat attitude that helped the Tommies cut through the din of cheering Calvin fans. “Captain Positive,” they call her.

After winning sets three, four, and five, St.Thomas became the first team from the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference to win the national title and ended their season with a 35-match winning streak, losing only once this year to Emory in 5 sets.

St. Thomas sophomore outside hitter Jill Greenfield added 14 kills and 17 digs in the championship match and was named the championship tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. The Knights’ setter Megan Rietema and hitters Lizzie Kamp and Emily Crowe were also All-Tournament selections, along with Kaiti Wachter and Sara Atkinson from St. Thomas and Abby Hogge from Christopher Newport.

Sisterhood of Knights

If only the five Kamp sisters had been born a little bit closer together, or had convinced a few of their volleyball-playing cousins to accompany them to Calvin, the Knights could have fielded an entire lineup from this Chicago family.

The oldest Kamp sister, Rebecca, was named AVCA National Player of the Year in 2011 as a senior, and younger sister Lizzie took the honors this year, making them the first pair of sisters to share the title in Division III history.

Younger sisters Stacey and Maggie were also members of the 2012 Knights team. It will be up to them to carry on the Kamp tradition for the next two seasons until the baby of the family, Anna, graduates from Chicago Christian High School and, we assume, joins her sisters as a Knight.

Originally published in February 2013

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