Bulldogs unable to cool off red hot Northwestern

Bulldogs unable to cool off red hot Northwestern

SEWARD, Neb. – The high-powered Northwestern locomotive swept through Walz Arena on Friday night as the visiting Red Raiders ran their winning streak to 20. Behind star right side Karlie Schut, seventh-ranked Northwestern (21-1, 5-0 GPAC) cruised to a 25-14, 25-12, 26-24 victory over the Bulldogs. Head coach Scott Mattera’s squad fell to 11-7 overall and 2-5 in GPAC action.

“When you’re playing this many young new players, you’re going to see some awesome stuff and you’re going to see some stuff that you just can’t explain,” Mattera said. “They’re going to make great plays. Down the stretch you saw us not shift on a ball that was too far outside.”

The seasoned Red Raiders took control early, piling up eight-straight points to extend their lead to 16-6 in the first set. They never looked back from there with only a brief deficit at the beginning of the second set and late in the third. Head coach Kyle Van Den Bosch’s squad sizzled with a .379 hitting percentage in the second game and a .344 clip for the match.

The likes of Schut, Kaitlin Floerchinger and Payton Samuelson dominated at the net as the trio combined for 21 kills and seven blocks. For the match, Northwestern’s towering front row piled up 11 blocks, including six in the second set.

Concordia provided by far the most resistance in the third set when it came back from an 11-4 deficit to knot things up at 13 and then again several more times throughout the match’s final set. The Bulldogs even grabbed a 22-21 lead on a Mariah Schamp kill. Three points later, Schamp drilled another kill that knocked a Northwestern player to the floor.

The crowd, spurred by an appearance from the Bulldog pep band, got rocking late in that third set. However, the Red Raiders stayed poised and came up with points 25 and 26 of the third game to close out Concordia.

“The first two games were not as bad as the scores,” Mattera said. “The play was much, much better. We just weren’t ending points. When it comes down to it, that’s the reason they’re No. 7 in the country and we’re not yet.

“We’re moving in that direction. There was a lot of progress being made tonight. Our demeanor on the court was much better.”

The Bulldogs got a team high nine kills from sophomore Claire White. Junior Carli Smith was active defensively with 21 digs, including an impressive diving bump in the first set that kept alive a long rally that ended with a White hammer of a kill. In addition, freshman setter Alayna Kavanaugh totaled 22 assists.

The Red Raiders also got stellar production from outside hitter Haley Chambers, who swatted 10 kills on just 16 swings. Middle hitter Kellie Goedken added 10 kills on 18 swings. The quintet of Chambers, Floerchinger, Goedken, Samuelson and Schut all range from 5-foot-11 to 6-foot-1 in height.

While Northwestern controlled much of Friday’s match, Van Den Bosch was complimentary of Concordia’s team and the direction of the program following his team’s victory.

The Bulldogs get right back to action on Saturday as Morningside (8-5, 1-3 GPAC) comes to town for a 1 p.m. match inside Walz Arena. Last season the Mustangs won the only meeting between the two squads in four sets.

“Morningside is a really solid team,” Mattera said. “They play extremely hard. It’s one of those, it takes more than one swing to get a kill type thing. We’ve got to plan on them making some diving, one-handed digs.”

27 September 2013

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Claire White