SEWARD, Neb. – A home win over 23rd-ranked Doane on Friday would make a big difference in Concordia’s hopes of a late-season run and postseason berth. The struggles experienced through the first 18 matches of the season have the Bulldogs re-evaluating their goals. They’re pressing the reset button. The way they see it, a new season starts Friday when the Tigers visit Walz Arena for a 7:30 p.m. CT first serve.
Sixth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad is thirsting for a positive result while still in search of its first GPAC victory.
Said Mattera after last week’s loss to Briar Cliff, "I told them, 'Doane on Friday night sure would be a nice win to turn this thing around.’ All of them smiled and had this hungry look in their eyes. They haven’t given up at all.”
Mattera has tinkered with his on-court configurations in recent matches as he continues to seek the right combinations. On many occasions, three freshmen have been part of that mix. Rookie Tara Callahan has been a fixture all season long at setter. Meanwhile, fellow freshmen defensive specialist Marissa Hoerman and middle/outside hitter Anna Lund have seen their playing time increase. The hope is that they are about to hit their stride. Callahan has hinted at future stardom many times.
At this point, the pin hitter positions are question marks that weren’t necessarily anticipated at the start of the season. An important piece both offensively and defensively, sophomore Alex La Plant tops Concordia with 173 kills. Additional offensive punch is needed for a squad ranked ninth in the conference in hitting percentage (.181). As a comparison, the 2015 national tournament qualifying Bulldogs hit .226. Sophomore middle Emmie Noyd has been the team’s most efficient attacker. She possess a .285 hitting percentage and 101 kills.
Doane (11-9, 2-5 GPAC) fell eight spots in this week’s top 25 poll. The Tigers experienced a run of tough luck before claiming back-to-back home wins over Mount Marty and College of Saint Mary. In their previous four matches, all defeats, Doane fell three times in five-set contests against top 25 foes. Outside hitter Allison Kuenle ranks 25th nationally with 261 kills on the year.
Friday’s match will be aired on 104.9 Max Country and will be shown simultaneously on the Concordia Sports Network. Frank Greene will again call the action.
Next week will offer up two significant challenges with road trips coming up at No. 4 Hastings (15-1, 7-1 GPAC) on Oct. 11 and at No. 3 Northwestern (20-1, 7-0 GPAC) on Oct. 14. The Bulldogs have fallen at home to both squads this season.