Concordia unable to dig out of sluggish start in home-opening loss

Concordia unable to dig out of sluggish start in home-opening loss

SEWARD, Neb. – Defending GPAC champion Hastings invaded Walz Arena on Wednesday night and looked the part of a strong title contender again in 2013. The Broncos dealt Concordia a four-set defeat, 25-20, 25-14, 19-25, 25-19, in the Bulldog home opener in front of a large crowd.

Playing in its biggest match to date, it took two sets before Concordia (6-2, 0-1 GPAC) settled in. The Bulldogs uncharacteristically played several sloppy touches, especially in a second set dominated by Hastings (6-3, 1-0 GPAC).

“We took the court and we were a little wide-eyed tonight,” Bulldog head coach Scott Mattera said. “We kind of anticipated it. We have that many new players, and how about the crowd tonight. It was amazing and it affected us plenty enough.”

In the third set, Concordia started to look more like the team that won six of its first seven matches. Plagued by errors in the previous two sets, the Bulldogs committed only one attack error and sizzled with a .435 hitting percentage in game three. Behind junior middle Mariah Schamp, Concordia breathed life back into a crowd ready to erupt.

“The key was really just trusting each other and playing volleyball,” Schamp said. “We talk about it a lot – just play volleyball. Have fun with it. That was a big component tonight. We were trying to be perfect. Being perfect is almost impossible because you’re going to hit it out. As soon as we stopped thinking and just played volleyball it was a lot better.”

Schamp ended up with a team high 12 kills on only 23 swings. She also added a solo block in serving as a catalyst in Concordia’s effort to keep up with the high-powered Broncos.

“We did some things that we have to be really excited about,” Mattera said. “We also did some things that say, ‘hey, we’ve got a long ways to go.’ But we can walk out of here knowing we fought. We had so many opportunities to just mail the rest of this match in and these ‘Dogs were not willing to go down without a fight.”

Hastings is reloading this season after losing 2012 GPAC Player of the Year Kendra Schwein to graduation. Bronco head coach Matt Buttermore turned to Kalynn Dahlke (match high 14 kills) and Katie Zoucha (11 kills) to put away points for Hastings on Wednesday.

Even in a match that displayed less than Concordia’s best, the Bulldogs gave the home crowd its first chance to see an upgraded array of attackers. Sophomore Claire White, named the GPAC Player of the Week on Tuesday, struggled early but still gave glimpses of why Concordia was so excited to have her transfer in from Washburn University. White nailed one kill so powerfully in the second set that the dig attempt flew wildly into the scorer’s table.

Freshmen Paige Getz and Alayna Kavanaugh also put forth solid overall efforts. Getz hammered several floor-pounding kills herself on the way to 11 on the night. Kavanaugh totaled 32 assists.

Carli Smith, the GPAC Defensive Player of the Week, topped the Bulldogs with 20 digs. White added 13.

Concordia hit .076 on the night with 28 attack errors. Comparatively, Hastings hit .218 with 20 attack errors.

The Bulldogs take Thursday off before traveling to Hastings, Neb., for two matches at the Hastings College Classic on Friday. Concordia will play fifth-ranked Oklahoma Baptist University at 2 p.m. before closing the day with an 8 p.m. battle with Dakota State University (S.D.).

Wednesday’s loss did nothing to dampen Mattera’s enthusiasm in regards to what lies ahead for Concordia volleyball.

Said Mattera, “I’m really excited about where we’re going.”

4 September 2013

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Paige Getz (No. 10)