ORANGE CITY, Iowa – In the hunt for a conference title, third-ranked Northwestern hit .363 overall and a blistering .480 in the third set of Saturday afternoon’s tilt with the visiting Concordia University volleyball team. The Bulldogs hit in the red and fell, 25-23, 25-14, 25-12, in Orange City, Iowa.
Sixth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad is starving for a victory. Concordia has slipped to 5-16 overall and to 0-11 in conference play.
“We came out and played really hard in the first,” Mattera said. “Our sped-up offense gave them pause for a bit but they made a couple plays down the stretch to hold on. We certainly didn't give them that one. Game two was a battle and was way closer than the score made it look. Unfortunately, in game three we had some passing breakdowns and they caught fire from the serve line.”
Few teams possess the firepower of the Red Raiders (22-2, 9-1 GPAC). Concordia got burned by the likes of Lauryn Hilger (13 kills), Anna Kiel (nine kills), AJ Horstman (eight kills) and Makenzie Fink (six kills). Each one hit better than .300. On the flip side, Northwestern excelled defensively as well. It out-blocked the Bulldogs, 9-3, and enjoyed a 38-29 advantage in digs.
Sophomore Emmie Noyd was by far Concordia’s most efficient attacker. She put down four kills, but had just seven hitting opportunities. Junior Jenna Habegger led the team with six kills while freshman Anna Lund added five. Tara Callahan lofted up 17 assists. Jenna Eller paced the Bulldogs with eight digs.
Concordia has shown moments of brilliance. The young team is lacking the consistency to knock off a top-rated team like the Red Raiders.
“We just couldn't get the ball to our middles enough and that really hurt, Mattera said. “I'm happy with some things we showed today that are direct improvements on things from practice. We had kind of hit a plateau improvement wise but really felt there was progress shown today. We've got great girls and they are bought in together and working hard. We can still make the (GPAC) tourney along with some other second half goals and we are going to go hard after.”
A four-match home stand is up next for the Bulldogs. That stretch begins on Wednesday when Concordia welcomes College of Saint Mary (8-13, 1-9 GPAC) to Walz Arena for 7 p.m. CT first serve. It will be a pink out in awareness of those with breast cancer.