Doane blocks Bulldogs in bid for first GPAC win

Doane blocks Bulldogs in bid for first GPAC win

SEWARD, Neb. – For the young Bulldog volleyball squad, learning how to win in the rugged GPAC is still a work in progress. On Tuesday visiting Doane (7-7, 1-1 GPAC) continued its series dominance against Concordia by grabbing a 25-20, 25-20, 25-23 win inside Walz Arena. The Bulldogs fell to 9-5 overall and 0-3 in league action.

“We did not play the big points well,” Concordia head coach Scott Mattera said. “We didn’t get a couple of breaks but you know what, they played extremely hard. When you play extremely hard you generally get more breaks. We need to be able to match the energy and intensity level that it seems like Doane brings.”

Once again there were moments of brilliance for Concordia, which looked far from overmatched despite succumbing in straight sets. The Bulldogs got on a roll early in the second set soon after earning a point on the longest rally of the night. Claire White mashed a kill to finally end a sequence that included 13 attack attempts. The Bulldogs led 11-7 in the set before the Tigers called timeout, regrouped and regained control.

Through parts of the match, especially in the second set, the defending GPAC Tournament champions frustrated Concordia with superior play right at the net. Doane totaled 11 blocks on the night with six coming in the second set when it held the Bulldogs to a negative attack percentage. Senior Ashley Axmann was particularly active with three solo blocks and one assisted denial.

Mattera believes his team needs to figure out how to settle in and stay calm throughout emotionally-charged GPAC battles.

“That’s not how we play. We like to play fast but not frantic,” Mattera said. “And they got us into a frantic game. You could see it just based on our hitting percentage. We were playing way too fast to connect the way we need to be connecting to keep the pressure on them. Their serve and serve receive game was fantastic.”

Doane finished with a .123 to -.010 edge in hitting percentage in a match that was more about defensive play and finding a way to grind out scramble points. The Tigers’ group of ball-hawkers simply proved more adept at keeping the ball alive on this particular night.

Six different Bulldogs hammered between two and six kills, led by the half a dozen from sophomore Kelsey Dinkel. Freshman Alayna Kavanaugh dished out 16 assists and junior Carli Smith dug up 14 Doane attacks.

Axmann added 13 kills and 10 digs to her stat line. Doane senior Emily Max notched two block solos and three block assists and sophomore Megan Fletcher chipped in three block assists as part of the stout Tiger defensive effort.

The Bulldogs will take to the road for weekend matches within the conference on both Friday and Saturday. Concordia travels to Mitchell, S.D., to battle Dakota Wesleyan on Friday at 7:30 p.m. The next day Mattera’s squad will play at 1:30 p.m. against Mount Marty in Yankton, S.D.

“Making that trip is always a challenge,” Mattera said. “That’s a long ride up there and a long ride back. Dakota Wesleyan is doing OK this year and Mount Marty is almost .500 as well – maybe more than a challenge than they’ve been in the past. And Dakota Wesleyan beat us last year, so there’s a little bit of a revenge factor.”

17 September 2013

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Kelsey Dinkel