SEWARD, Neb. – Three weeks into the 2018 season, the surprising undefeated run has continued for the Concordia University volleyball team. Now comes the most marquee home match of the season to date. The Bulldogs will welcome eighth-ranked Midland (10-2, 2-0 GPAC), the GPAC’s highest rated team, to Walz Arena on Tuesday. Concordia also faces its first true road match of the season on Thursday when it makes a trip to Morningside (5-5, 0-1 GPAC).
Tuesday, Sept. 11 vs. No. 8 Midland, 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13 at Morningside, 7:30 p.m.
Both of this week’s matches will be carried live by 104.9 Max Country. The Concordia Sports Network will also have live coverage of Tuesday’s home match.
Head coach Ben Boldt’s squad helped legitimize its sparkling record last week by earning four more wins. The victims were conference rivals College of Saint Mary and Mount Marty and Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference foes McPherson College (Kan.) and Kansas Wesleyan University. Considering records and rankings, the victory over McPherson (12-1) on Sept. 8 stood out as particularly noteworthy. McPherson entered the match unbeaten and later in the day upset 11th-ranked Hastings in five sets. McPherson and Kansas Wesleyan are the first and third rated teams, respectively, in the KCAC. The Bulldogs are one of seven remaining undefeated teams in NAIA volleyball.
Individually, junior Emmie Noyd shined last week in the middle. Over the four most recent wins, Noyd went for 59 kills and 14 blocks while hitting .336. Her 23 kills in the five-set win over College of Saint Mary represented a career high. From the back row, sophomore Marissa Hoerman enjoyed a big week of her own. She averaged 5.5 digs per set (88 total digs). Her 32 digs in the win over McPherson were a career best. Both have been key figures in allowing the Bulldogs to outhit their opponents, .260 to .125, this season. Concordia’s hitting percentage ranks 10th best nationally.
Midland is known for having impressive attacking teams of its own. The Bulldogs will have their hands full with senior middle Priscilla O’Dowd, who currently leads the nation in hitting percentage (.505). Head coach Paul Giesselmann, in his ninth season at Midland, returned both of his 2017 first team All-GPAC performers in O’Dowd and setter Jessica Peters. They are the headliners for a team that has won matches over then third-ranked Missouri Baptist University and then 23rd-ranked Ottawa University (Kan.). Both of the Warrior losses have come against foes ranked inside the top 10 nationally.
Morningside received votes nationally in the preseason following a national tournament qualification in 2017. The Mustangs fell in straight sets to Midland in their GPAC opener last week. Morningside employs a solid middle in Emma Gerber, the team’s leader in kills (117) and hitting percentage (.306). Fourth-year head coach Beth Donnelly has helped quickly lift up the program after it endured an 8-20 overall record in 2015.
It will be GPAC play the rest of the regular season for Concordia. Next week the Bulldogs will host No. 22 Doane on Tuesday, Sept. 18, play at No. 11 Hastings on Thursday, Sept. 20 and then host No. 16 Northwestern on Saturday, Sept. 22.