Concordia volleyball hints at future promise in season-ending defeat
FREMONT, Neb. – There were times on Saturday night when Concordia volleyball appeared poised to pull off a stunner over No. 6 Midland in the GPAC tournament quarterfinals in Fremont, Neb. The Bulldogs outlasted the Warriors in the first set, but Midland rallied for a 26-28, 25-12, 25-21, 25-20 win over head coach Scott Mattera’s hard-charging crew. The loss completes the 2013 season for Concordia, which went 17-14 overall.
“This was one of those matches where their fans, players and coaches make a point to tell us how much respect we earned,” Mattera said. “I'm very proud of this team and beyond excited for the future.”
The Bulldogs trailed 24-21 in the first set before making a gutty rally on the road against a team that beat them just a few days earlier. Concordia ran off the next four points to take the lead only to see Midland take the next two. Facing another Midland set point, the Bulldogs got kills from freshman Taylor Workman and junior Jami Nekoliczak before the set came to a conclusion with a Midland attack error.
"I’ve got no complaints,” Mattera said. “We’re walking out of here heads held high. Game one was an amazing comeback. We had a meltdown in game two but came out of the locker room firing in three and four. It sure felt like we were going five as we had control of four until a key run in the late teens when Midland really turned it on and showed why they are a national threat.”
The Warriors turned to star Ashley Wheeler to get back on track. She posted a match high 15 kills in allowing Midland to avoid falling victim to Concordia’s upset bid. Wheeler also got plenty of help from a balanced attack that included Mackenzie Scheef (11 kills) and KC Heimann (10 kills).
For a team whose only three losses have come to teams ranked inside the nation’s top 10, Saturday’s contest may have pushed Midland a bit more than it expected.
“We didn't back down one bit,” Mattera said. “It hurts knowing the season is over but the way we played tonight should give us both confidence and hunger as we move forward.”
Statistically, Concordia was paced by the 12 kills of Paige Getz, who budded into a star in the second half of the season. Sophomore Claire White chipped in 10 kills and Workman added eight.
Freshman setter Alayna Kavanaugh dished out 34 assists and junior Carli Smith tallied 15 digs.
The Bulldogs will not graduate a single individual who saw significant time on the court in 2013. After making a jump from 10 wins in 2012 to 17 in 2013, Mattera expects the program to make great strides again heading into the 2014 campaign.
9 November 2013