SIOUX CITY | Leah Kamp picked a great time to be playing her best volleyball of the season.
Fourteen hours after tying a career high with 18 kills in a quarterfinal sweep over sixth-ranked Westmont, the 5-foot-11 junior middle hitter slammed 19 kills as No. 4 Dordt reached the title match of the NAIA Volleyball National Championships for the second straight year, following Saturday morning’s 23-25, 26-24, 25-17, 25-19 triumph over No. 2 Viterbo.
Kamp didn’t play in last year’s national tournament. She began a streak of four double-digit kill efforts with 13 in Thursday’s five-game pool loss to No. 13 Missouri Baptist and has since accumulated 61 kills.
“She’s playing great and when you have so many great hitters, it’s nice to be able to distribute the ball to any one of them,” said setter Jamie Gesink, whose 51 assists also included dishes to Ema Altena and 6-foot-6 Haley Moss, who added 17 and 10 kills, respectively, for a squad that took a 34-7 record into Saturday night’s title match against No. 1 Lindsey Wilson.
“Leah has been really patient in our attack,” she added. “She’s been really finding the holes that she needs to.”
Kamp’s .389 hitting percentage was topped only by Viterbo’s Natalie Geidel, who hit .392 while rapping a match-high 23 kills. While Altena dominated the latter stages of a Game 2 rally from a 24-22 deficit with three straight kills before combining with Ally Krommendyk on a block of Geidel, Kamp scored three of the Defenders’ last four Game 3 points on kills.
“We expect that out of Leah,” said Dordt Coach Chad Hanson. “I’m glad she’s delivering. She’s just having a fun, fun time. Jamie and Leah are really connecting well and our passers are allowing that to happen. It’s been a real joy.”
“Our team is playing our best volleyball now and that’s awesome,” said Kamp. “I haven’t really been thinking about it. I just go out there and play. This is just an awesome experience and I’m enjoying every minute of it. It’s motivating me to keep doing my best.”
Libero Summer Jansen paced Dordt’s sharp back-row effort with 16 digs while double-digit dig totals also came from Altena (15), Gesink (12) and Aubrey Drake (10). Kamp was also active on the block against Viterbo (39-2), as she and 6-2 Ally Krommendyk each recorded five block assists while Altena added four.
Dordt’s block effort was important because it was more than Geidel on the attack as 6-3 Aubrey Aspen added 11 kills and three blocks. Twice in the late stages of Game 4, Aspen recorded two consecutive kills, the last pair providing a 19-18 lead.
Moss tied it with a kill from the right side while Kamp combined with Julia Lindbergh (8 kills, 1 solo block, 2 block assists) to block a kill attempt from Viterbo’s Maya Roberts (9 kills). A hitting error from the Warriors followed as Dordt increased its lead to 21-19, something it never lost.
“In this type of game you want to earn the points and we just gave (Dordt) too many points in critical situations that cost us,” said Viterbo Coach Ryan DeLong, who also coached squads that lost national semifinals in 2014 and 2015. “It was a great Final Four match, two great teams going at it. It was disappointing to lose because it was so tight.”
“We were able to be smart with our attack,” said Hanson. “Early on though, we were a little bit jammed. We were trying to snap the ball down and their block was having a field day with that, so I’m glad we adjusted on the attacking side.”
LINDSEY WILSON 3, MISSOURI BAPTIST 0: Top-ranked Lindsey Wilson moved within a win of historic proportions following a 25-22, 32-30, 25-16 sweep over No. 13 Missouri Baptist Saturday morning in the semifinals of the NAIA Volleyball Championships at the Tyson Events Center.
Elly Burke led a balanced attack with 13 kills for Lindsey Wilson, which took a 34-0 record into Saturday night’s title match against No. 4 Dordt. Coach Andy Cavins’ Mid-South Conference champions not only reached the national finals for the first time in the program’s history, they were trying to become the first undefeated champion since Park went 40-0 while winning the 2014 title.
Paulina Sobolewska, the Mid-South Conference freshman of the year, contributed 11 kills, 17 digs, five block assists and one ace serve for the Blue Raiders. Grace Blomstedt, a native of Red Oak, Iowa, powered herself to totals of 10 kills, one solo block and eight block assists while Yennifer Ramirez added 10 kills and three block assists. Mid-South libero of the year Caitlyn Tino had 16 digs.
A program that reached the quarterfinals a year ago after dropping a 2015 semifinal, Lindsey Wilson registered two solo blocks and 22 block assists while Missouri Baptist (34-9) had three solos and four block assists.
Setter Makenzie Montano, a two-time Mid-South player of the year, directed an attack that hit .266 and limited itself to 14 hitting errors. Along with her 43 assists, Montano also provided eight digs, one solo block, one block assist and six kills.
Missouri Baptist suffered its second loss of the season to the Blue Raiders. Marion Couraud pounded a match-high 19 kills, eight more than Ana Oliveira. Setter Rachel Poole dished 35 assists while Oliveira and Rachel Luebbers each recorded 14 digs.