Concordia volleyball ends spring primed for significant improvement

Concordia volleyball ends spring primed for significant improvement

SEWARD, Neb. - Head coach Scott Mattera’s Bulldog volleyball team has concluded the spring season with plenty of positive energy after more than holding its own against conference opponents like Doane and Midland in recent scrimmages. While Mattera won’t put much stock in wins and losses in April exhibitions, he likes the development of the program after completing a full season at the helm.

“Wins and losses in the spring are kind of a misnomer,” Mattera said. “We did win most of the matches we played, but all coaches are trying out different things and we’re trying out different things, too.

“Overall, I’m normally a pretty optimistic guy, but even this spring impressed me more than I thought it would. The girls really stepped up. They understand what competition with themselves and against the standards that we want to have means. Everybody’s competing for positions and we’re really turning the corner on the mindset that it takes to be champions.”

The Bulldogs have also tested themselves this spring against non-conference in-state opponents like York College and Peru State. Throughout these matches, juniors-to-be such as middle blocker Mariah Schamp and defensive specialist Carli Smith have taken their play to another level.

Schamp and Smith are part of sophomore class that saw lots of action this past fall and is expected to serve as primary leaders as seniors like Amanda Kisker and Kim Miller graduate this May.

“When I mentioned how optimistic and impressed I am with the spring, it was probably as much emotional, leadership, chemistry-wise that I was impressed with as much as the on-the-court stuff. Some girls have really stepped up this spring.”

Schamp could prove to be a force in 2013 after recording 189 kills and 77 total blocks this past season. The 2012 GPAC honorable mention selection and Arvada, Colo., native has popped this spring.

“Mariah Schamp just had a monster spring,” Mattera said. “She’s always been a phenomenal athlete and a real intense volleyball player. Now the technical and strategic (aspects) are starting to come along with it, too. She’s been absolutely fantastic.”

Smith, a native of Temecula, Calif., already established herself as a fine player in 2012. She was third in the conference in digs per set (4.5) and earned second team all-GPAC honors. With two full seasons as a significant contributor under her belt, Smith is more confident and becoming even more of a leader.

“Carli Smith has really stepped up,” Mattera said. “Obviously she was second team all-conference as a sophomore, but she’s taken on more of a leadership role. She’s really become a rock in the back row for us, which is really important moving forward.”

Fellow juniors-to-be in outside hitter Amanda Abbott and setters Kayla James and Jami Nekoliczak will also bring plenty of experience to the table. Abbbott ranked second on the team behind Kisker in kills last season while James and Nekoliczak split time evenly as facilitators of the offensive attack.

This nucleus of returning players will be joined in the fall by a recruiting class that will provide needed size and athleticism.

“We have one of the stronger classes comparatively to our competition in terms of the breadth of where these players are coming from and the diversity of position,” Mattera said. “I’m extremely, extremely excited about this class, not only because they’re great volleyball players but because they all come from phenomenal families.”

29 April 2013

Mariah Schamp (right) has enjoyed an impressive spring season and will be a key component of the 2013 Bulldog volleyball squad.