Written by Student Assistant Christian Bond
TACOMA, Wash. – After winning all four games played during the Puget Sound Premiere last weekend, the Pacific Lutheran University volleyball team travels to California to play four more non-conference contests.
Kiana Calles was awarded the tournament's most outstanding player award and joined teammates Mackenzie Harris and Caylie Shiramizu on the All-Tournament team. Calles had 10 kills on 24 total attacks and added 31 digs on the weekend. More importantly, she led the team in assists, averaging 10.8 per set, including a career-high 47 in a four-set victory over College of Saint Benedict. The work Calles put in on the court is nothing compared to the work it takes to care for her four year old daughter Ellie. Ellie is part of the reason that Calles' career started at Skagit Valley College.
"One of the biggest reason why I attended Skagit was because it was only a thirty minute drive from my house to get to school every day so it made it possible for me to still go to school and also be a mom," Calles said. "Another reason I attended Skagit was I had the opportunity to continue my athletic career there playing volleyball."
Family has always played a significant role in Calles' life. The Anacortes, Washington native moved around a lot due to her father being in the Navy. Along with her family, Calles has lived in California and Virginia Beach, Virginia.
When the time came for Calles to attend college, family influenced her decision. The combination of her daughter being born, and her dad being the head volleyball coach led Calles to Skagit Valley College. She found great success, being named the Female Athlete of the Year in 2016.
"Earning Female Athlete of the Year was an honor that had been my goal after my freshman season," Calles said. "It was a family effort as I wasn't able to get good grades without the help of my family watching Ellie while I studied or did homework."
After her sophomore season, Calles had to find a new school to call home. Calles was considering Whatcom Community College and Western Washington University. A friend reached out to Calles to see if she had considered PLU. That friend was Lucy Caprun '16, a member of the Lutes volleyball team from 2013 to 2015.
"At first I never have heard of PLU but once I looked up the majors PLU had to offer I became interested," Calles said. "I then visited the campus during Game Day. The moment I stepped onto campus I knew it was the perfect fit for me. The environment on campus is what really drew me as everyone on campus seemed so accepting."
Now playing her final season on the court, Calles is happy about the decision she made.
"Now being in my senior year I definitely feel like I made the right choice coming to PLU as I love the small class sizes and how involved professors want to be in each and every students life," Calles said. "I just feel at home at PLU."
Calles and the Lutes open up the Cal Lu Fornia Invitational in Thousand Oaks, California on Friday, facing Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges at 12:30 p.m. before taking on Whittier College at 3 p.m. PLU faces host California Lutheran University on Saturday at 2 p.m. and then cap off the tournament at 6 p.m. against Pomona-Pitzer Colleges.
Sept. 8: PLU vs. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in Thousand Oaks, California (12:30 p.m.)
Series History: The Lutes and Athenas have met six times on the volleyball court with the Lutes holding a 4-2 edge in the series. The two teams last met at this tournament in 2014 with PLU coming away with the 3-1 victory.
About the Athenas: Last season, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps advanced to the NCAA Tournament, going 23-4 overall and 14-2 in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play. CMS has gotten off to a hot start, going 3-1 in its first four games, with the lone setback a 3-1 match against Millikin University. Margaux Arntson leads the team with 34 kills, averaging 2.6 per set with fellow senior Mikena Werner leading the team averaging 4.1 digs per set.
Sept. 8: PLU vs. Whittier in Thousand Oaks, California (3 p.m.)
Series History: The Lutes and Poets have met three times, with PLU coming out on top on all three occasions. The two teams met last season down in Texas with the Lutes coming away with the 3-1 victory.
About the Poets: The Poets went 9-18 in 2016, and are off to a 2-2 start this season after spending last weekend at the Colorado College Classic. Senior Rebecca Slattery leads the team in kills, posting 3.65 per set while Hunter Durham and Clarissa Standafer anchor the defense, averaging 3.7 and 3.6 digs per set, respectively.
Sept. 9: PLU at Cal Lutheran in Thousand Oaks, California (2 p.m.)
Series History: The Lutes and the Regals have played five times, with the Lutes holding the series lead 3-2. The teams last met at this tournament in 2014 with host Cal Lu prevailing 3-0.
About the Regals: California Lutheran, the 2015 national champions, are off to a 2-3 start to the 2017 season. CLU earned 3-0 wins over the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and Whitman College but has since dropped three straight, including a 3-0 decision on Wednesday to Westmont College. Hope Stewart leads the team in kills, averaging 2.6 per set while CJ O'Brian paces the team defensively, with 2.75 digs/set.
Sept. 9: PLU vs. Pomona-Pitzer in Thousand Oaks, California (6 p.m.)
Series History: The Lutes have won both meetings between the two schools and haven't met on the volleyball court since the 2008 season.
About the Sagehens: In 2016, Pomona-Pitzer went 13-13, including an 8-8 mark in SCIAC play. This season, they've started off at a 1-3 clip with their one win coming against Texas Lutheran University. Offensively, the team looks for Julia Zwaal who has 45 kills in four games, averaging a team-best 3.0 kills/set while also pacing the team in digs with 3.7 per set.