SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University volleyball team will soon have a great understanding of where it stacks up in comparison to conference rivals regarded as NAIA top 25 teams. Following last week’s opener at ninth-ranked Midland, the Bulldogs are set to play another five matches in a row against nationally-ranked GPAC teams. That stretch starts with Wednesday’s trip to No. 16 Doane.
This week’s schedule
Wednesday, Sept. 13 at No. 16 Doane, 7:30 p.m. CT
Saturday, Sept. 16 vs. No. 14 Northwestern, 3 p.m. CT
Of the season’s first 11 matches for sixth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad, seven have been played inside Walz Arena. Wednesday will mark just the third true road contest of the year. Prior to last week’s defeat at Midland, Concordia had won three of the four matches while hosting the annual Bulldog Bash (Sept. 1-2). That weekend included a pair of wins over NCAA Division II opponents: Chadron State College and Missouri Southern State University.
One of the biggest positives to come out of the GPAC opener was the play of outside hitter Kelsey Baarck, who pummeled nine kills on three swings. Additionally, senior Jocelyn Garcia added 18 digs, pushing her career total to 1,483. Fellow senior Annie Friesen needs four more kills to reach 500 for her career. Concordia enters this week hitting .188 as a team. Its opponents have hit .167.
Doane has tested itself against a schedule ranked 15th most difficult in the nation according to Massey Ratings. The Tigers (8-4, 0-1 GPAC) have dropped four matches, but all of those losses have come against teams with top 10 national rankings. Doane began GPAC play with a straight sets loss at No. 1 Hastings. Allison Kuenle is the team leader with 149 kills (39th most in the nation).
The Red Raiders have already made one trip to Seward this season having played at the Bulldog Bash. Northwestern (13-1, 0-0 GPAC) has a showdown on Wednesday with No. 5 Dordt (13-2, 1-0 GPAC) before visiting Walz Arena this weekend. Northwestern has played the NAIA’s 124th-ranked schedule to this point. The Red Raiders currently lead the nation in hitting percentage (.336).