SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University volleyball team is ready to get back into the win column on the heels of a challenging six-match stretch to open up conference play. The Bulldogs have already played each of the GPAC’s six nationally-ranked squads. Sixth-year head coach Scott Mattera and company hope that the brutal stretch will pay dividends moving forward for a squad featuring plenty of freshmen and sophomores in key roles.
This week’s schedule
Wednesday, Sept. 27 at College of Saint Mary, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 30 vs. Briar Cliff, 5 p.m.
Concordia made top-ranked Hastings (14-0, 6-0 GPAC) sweat out the first two sets of a contest played inside Walz Arena on Sept. 20. The Broncos (24-match win streak) survived despite a strong push from the Bulldogs. Concordia found the road unkind over the weekend and fell in straight sets to both No. 6 Dordt (16-3, 4-1 GPAC) and 24th-ranked Morningside (12-7, 4-2 GPAC). To this point, the Bulldogs have played one of the most difficult schedules of any volleyball program in the NAIA.
A win at College of Saint Mary could go a long way towards lifting Concordia’s spirits. There have been obvious examples of growth during trying times. Up-and-comers like freshmen Tara Callahan (triple double vs. Northwestern) and Marissa Hoerman (career high 19 digs at Morningside) and sophomore Alex La Plant (team high 161 kills) have had their moments of brilliance. Keeping sophomore middle Emmie Noyd (.292 hitting percentage) healthy the remainder of the year will be crucial.
The Flames (7-7, 0-4 GPAC) are also in search of their first conference win after suffering defeats last week to No. 9 Midland and Mount Marty. CSM’s Dani Carlson ranks seventh among GPAC hitters with an average of 3.5 kills per set. Meanwhile, Briar Cliff (11-3, 2-3 GPAC) has dropped three matches in a row after an 11-0 start. Like the Bulldogs, the Chargers (third in the GPAC in blocks per set) have found the going tough against the conference’s powerhouse teams.
Both of this week’s matches will be streamed online. College of Saint Mary will carry Wednesday’s contest via its Stretch Internet portal. Bulldog volleyball will be back on the Concordia Sports Network on Saturday. Frank Greene will be at College of Saint Mary to broadcast the match on 104.9 Max Country.
Concordia will play just once next week. The Bulldogs will host No. 15 Doane at 7:30 p.m. CT on Friday, Oct. 6.