SEWARD, Neb. – With five of its final six regular-season matches set to take place inside Walz Arena, the Concordia University volleyball team will have its opportunity to make a postseason push without leaving home. This week presents three opportunities for the Bulldogs to claim their first GPAC victory of 2017. Up next is Wednesday’s (Oct. 18) pink-out match that will feature Concordia hosting College of Saint Mary at 7 p.m. CT.
This week’s schedule
Wednesday, Oct. 18 vs. College of Saint Mary (8-13, 1-9 GPAC)
Friday, Oct. 20 vs. Dakota Wesleyan (14-14, 1-9 GPAC)
Saturday, Oct. vs. Mount Marty (8-13, 1-10 GPAC)
The good news for sixth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad is that it will play each of the three teams directly in front of it in the GPAC standings. A clean sweep this week would put the Bulldogs in the driver’s seat for the No. 8 seed in the GPAC tournament set to begin with the quarterfinals on Nov. 4. To this point, the Bulldogs have struggled to claim wins while up against a schedule that Massey Ratings currently ranks as the 10th toughest in the NAIA. Concordia has gone up against 10 nationally-ranked teams (five in the top 10), two ‘receiving votes’ squads and three opponents from NCAA Division II.
The hope is that the growing pains will soon come to an end for a youthful roster. A late-season run of success could help spring the young Bulldogs into 2018. Many key roles are being held down by freshmen and sophomores. The team leader in kills is a sophomore in Alex La Plant (190). The team leader in assists is a freshman in Tara Callahan (650). While the digs leader is a senior in Jocelyn Garcia (214), three first- or second-year players have collected more than 100 digs: freshmen Marissa Hoerman (133) and Callahan (125) and sophomore Emma Brand (125).
This week’s opponents each own one GPAC victory apiece. Dakota Wesleyan won at Mount Marty in five sets on Sept. 5. Mount Marty took care of College of Saint Mary in Yankton, S.D., in four sets on Sept. 22. College of Saint Mary held off Concordia in five sets in Omaha on Sept. 27. The Bulldogs will face two of the conference’s top attackers in terms of kills per set: Dakota Wesleyan’s Rebecca Frick (4.0) and College of Saint Mary’s Dani Carlson (3.5).
All three of this week’s home matches will be shown live via the Concordia Sports Network. Radio coverage for Wednesday’s match will be provided by 104.9 Max Country with Frank Greene on the call.
In next week’s action, Concordia is slated to host Grace University on Oct. 24 before returning to conference play with a trip to Briar Cliff on Oct. 28.