SEWARD, Neb. – Head coach Ben Boldt and members of the Concordia University volleyball team will admit they’re not perfect, but the results have been so far in 2018. The Bulldogs rode out a few bumps in the road on Friday night (Aug. 31), but ultimately brushed aside visiting Bethany College (Kan.), 25-20, 25-14, 25-17, in the final match of day one at the Bulldog Bash.
Boldt and the program are hosting four other volleyball squads this weekend, including three from the state of Kansas and one from North Dakota. Concordia has checked the first of three boxes in the event and is now 6-0 without a set loss in the early going this season.
“They have good outsides and a really good setter,” Boldt said of Bethany. “Any time you go up against that, you’re going to be in a match. Their serve tonight gave us some fits.
“I thought our focus was pretty good today. We came out on fire again, which was good to see. We had a little bit of a lull in the middle of the first set. We re-focused and I thought that we kept that focus through the match.”
Boldt singled out the team’s passing as a weakness in this particular match, but no one could fault the effort of sophomore Marissa Hoerman in the back row. She piled up a career high 27 digs while helping limit the Swedes (0-7) to a .124 hitting percentage and only 28 kills. Harlie Himmelberg also helped clean up with 12 digs on an evening when the Bulldogs mustered just a pair of blocks.
Hoerman will be a key figure all season for Concordia. Her tenacity will especially come in handy when the Bulldogs go up against the GPAC’s heavy hitters.
“I’m playing a different position. I’m in the middle rather than left back,” Hoerman said. “It’s a little less hard digs and more running around and trying to cover stuff. Our system overall is kind of similar (to last year), it’s just learning to implement what Ben and Angie want in our system – same system, different expectation.”
On the attacking side of things, the Bulldogs have proven to be satisfied with spreading the ball around. Setters Tara Callahan (17 assists) and Kaci Hohenthaner (19 assists, nine digs, three aces) set the middle a lot on Friday. Emmie Noyd pounded a match high 11 kills on 27 swings. Other nice contributions were made by Jenna Habegger (eight kills, .286), Alex La Plant (8 kills) and Kelsey Baarck (six kills, .357).
“It was good to see a couple of things. We made an adjustment with our middles,” Boldt said. “Specifically Emmie, we keep running her on a slide attack where she goes off of one foot. This is the first year that she really runs that. We switched up the set. We went with a quicker set, still going off of one foot, but we made the adjustment there. She just ripped it. That was fun to see.”
The Bulldogs hit .264 with 44 kills on the night. Their attack got more efficient as the night wore on with their hitting percentages going from .217 to .278 to .308 from set to set. Junior Lauren Cope chipped in with a kill in the second set before having to depart with an injury. Sophomore Kara Stark also saw action. She swatted three kills on her six attempts.
The Bulldog Bash will continue on Saturday with Concordia taking on Valley City State University (N.D.) at 11 a.m. and then Benedictine College (Kan.) at 5 p.m.