KISSIMMEE, Fla. – The 2014 season for the Grace College volleyball team ended in the semifinals of the NCCAA National Championships on Saturday morning, December 6, 2014.
The Lady Lancers fell in five sets to No. 1 seed Trinity Christian, wrapping up the season with a record of 30-12.
The loss ends the careers of seniors Calah Kruse, Hannah Clemmons and Ellie Harp. They finished as the first class to reach three national championships in a four-year span, following trips to NCCAA Nationals in 2011 and 2012. They also reached the 30-win plateau for only the second time since 1996.
Kaitlin Kerrigan was instrumental in Grace’s opening set victory with five kills. Grace was behind early 10-7, but the Lady Lancers rallied to take the lead 14-13 on a block point by Grace Woolsey and Ellie Harp. The Trolls (37-10) were unable to taste the lead the rest of the set, losing 25-21.
Trinity responded aptly in the next game with its best set of the morning. The Trolls rolled to a 25-16 win to even the match, pounding out 21 kills on just two errors.
The third set proved to be pivotal. The teams exchanged small runs throughout much of the game, ultimately leading to a 20-20 tie. Grace used a pair of 4-0 spurts earlier in the set, but it was the Trolls’ turn to make a run at the end. Trinity ended the match by scoring the final five points, winning 25-20.
Tori Bontrager helped Grace get back on track in the fourth game, claiming an 8-0 lead on Bontrager’s serving from the onset. Trinity refused to fade, however, and remarkably tied the game at 16-16. Grace recovered to pull ahead 20-17, and the 20th point – a solo block from Kari Feddema – forced a Trolls’ timeout. The timeout worked as Trinity quickly tied the score then went on top 23-22 with back-to-back blocks.
But a well-placed timeout from head coach Andria Harshman allowed the Lady Lancers to regain composure, ending the match at 25-23 with three straight points to force a fifth set.
The teams traded points during an action-packed tiebreaker set. Trinity gained the first separation at 7-4, resulting in a timeout. Grace was unable to pierce through the Trolls’ lead and was forced to use their second timeout trailing 11-7. But Trinity would not be denied a place in the championship match, ultimately winning 15-10.
Calah Kruse recorded her fifth double-double in five matches at NCCAA Nationals, tallying team-highs 15 kills and 25 digs. Kaitlin Kerrigan finished with 15 kills and 11 digs, and Tori Bontrager had 10 kills. Ellie Harp recorded 50 assists, 12 digs and 7 kills, Hannah Clemmons had 18 digs, and Sierra Smith had seven kills.