Concordia downed by battle-tested Warriors
SEWARD, Neb. – Across the net, Concordia volleyball peered at a top ten nationally-ranked foe that resembles the type of team it aspires to be. A seasoned Midland group, equipped with a balanced overall roster, continued its unbeaten run on Wednesday with a 25-15, 25-20, 25-21 victory inside Walz Arena. The Bulldogs dropped to 7-4 overall and 0-2 in conference play.
After a rough first set, Concordia bounced back and made the eighth-ranked Warriors (15-0, 1-0 GPAC) earn the straight-sets victory over the final two sets. Midland, led by fourth-year head coach Paul Giesselmann, used a superior defensive effort to regain control whenever the Bulldogs grabbed a bit of momentum.
“That team’s been together for a full year, year-and-a-half,” Bulldog head coach Scott Mattera said. “That’s where we’re headed. This was a good learning experience for us to see where we need to go, but I’m impatient. I think we all need to be a little bit more impatient with how long it’s going to take.”
There were still plenty of Concordia examples of the “pretty points” that Mattera often refers to. There was junior Mariah Schamp’s crowd-pleasing smack down of a kill that gave Concordia an 8-5 lead in the second set. There was Schamp and freshman Tiegen Skains combining on a block that gave the Bulldogs life when they trailed in the third set. And freshman setter Alayna Kavanaugh did her best to rally Concordia in the third set with a sneak-attack kill and an ace later in the set.
Concordia cut a six-point deficit in the third game down to one at 21-20, until the Warriors decided enough was enough. Returning first team all-conference outside hitter Ashley Wheeler responded with two of her match-high 16 kills and suddenly Midland had its 13th win this season by a straight-sets decision.
For Mattera, the Bulldogs need to improve their ability to sustain long rallies and keep coming back with big plays when the opposition employs such stifling defense.
“We need to make multiple good plays to score a point,” Mattera said. “We need to have that mindset where we just keep and keep going and keep going. We just don’t have it yet.”
The Warriors, the GPAC favorite thanks in large part to the return of all five players who received all-conference honors last season, had five players with seven or more digs. The savvy Midland squad hit only .149 but held Concordia to a .009 attack percentage.
Freshman Taylor Workman enjoyed the best night on the attack for Concordia with five kills on 14 swings. Kavanaugh added 15 assists and sophomore Kendra Dinkel posted 11 digs in front of another solid throng of Bulldog fans.
“Our crowd was great again tonight,” Mattera said. “We couldn’t ask for much more. Hopefully Saturday we come out and show them what we’ve really got, point-in and point-out instead of flashes of it. We’ll get on a roll.”
The Bulldogs will again take a dip outside the conference on Saturday when they host a tri-match with NAIA member Presentation College (S.D.) and NCAA Division III University of Dallas (Texas). Concordia’s matches will begin at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
11 September 2013