Balance of Prairie Wolves too much for Bulldogs

Balance of Prairie Wolves too much for Bulldogs

SEWARD, Neb. – There were times on Tuesday night when Bulldog volleyball appeared primed to take that next step toward toppling a top GPAC opponent. However, a hot Nebraska Wesleyan (13-2, 5-2 GPAC) squad used a balanced effort to dispatch of Concordia in four, 25-19, 27-25, 19-25, 25-18, inside Walz Arena. The Bulldogs declined to 12-8 overall and 3-6 in GPAC play.

“We had moments of brilliance but not enough of them,” Concordia head coach Scott Mattera said. “We had some of our best play of the year quite honestly, especially in game three there. We just didn’t have the consistency tonight. We were kind of an emotional roller coaster tonight.”

The second set proved pivotal as Nebraska Wesleyan took control of the match by eking out a 27-25 decision. The Bulldogs led 20-17 after a Claire White kill that forced the Prairie Wolves to call timeout. With the set knotted at 25-all, Alyssa Stanek and Alexa Rosenau combined on a block and Malory Dahl floored a kill to give Nebraska Wesleyan the 2-0 advantage.

The Bulldogs saved their best for the third set when White went for five of her match high 16 kills. Concordia led virtually the entire set and would have won by an even larger margin if not for an uncharacteristic seven service errors in the third game.

“Before the third set we really talked about staying loose,” White said. “The other sets we played well, but we were a little bit tight and plays weren’t going our way because of it. I think the key was just to stay loose and I think it helped open up our defense for more plays and our offense came through.”

Concordia played on Tuesday without 2012 second team all-GPAC honoree Carli Smith, who sat out with an injury. Mattera inserted sophomore Kendra Dinkel (24 digs) into the lineup as Concordia continued its two-person serve receive pairing Dinkel and White.

“There were times you could see that we were missing Carli – we do miss her – but Kendra stepped up and really played great tonight,” Mattera said. “I am really proud of her.

“Carli’s the prime passer in all six of our rotations. Even though the people who were in for her did great, it’s just different.”

Added White, “Kendra did awesome. She really stepped in when we needed her.”

Nebraska Wesleyan came out with a victory by keeping its play at a high level more consistently than Concordia. The Prairie Wolves got a big defensive night from Mackenzie Hite, who turned in 31 digs, and a team best 14 kills from Alyssa Stanek. On a night when long rallies were the norm, Nebraska Wesleyan outlasted the Bulldogs.

“They did things the right way quite often tonight,” Mattera said of the Prairie Wolves, who received votes in Tuesday’s NCAA Division III national rankings. “They’re 13-2 for a reason. It’s the same story we keep saying every week. We’re playing great competition and we need to be consistently good to hang with this level of competition.”

Freshman outside hitter Paige Getz equaled a career high with 14 kills for the second-straight match. White added 19 digs to go with her 16 kills. The Exeter, Neb., native now has eight kill-dig double-doubles on the season.

1 October 2013

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Taylor Workman