Getz and company hit .419, dominate season opener
SEWARD, Neb. – Opening the 2014 season, the Concordia University volleyball team shook off a slow early start to run away with a 25-15, 25-11, 25-9 victory over visiting Faith Baptist Bible College on Tuesday evening. With the expectation of another leap forward in head coach Scott Mattera’s third season, the Bulldogs gave fans plenty to cheer about after the initial lull.
“We got down right away but we pulled out of it really quickly,” Mattera said. “That’s a positive rather than something I’m really worried about. It was good that we got pushed right at the beginning there.”
Concordia found itself trailing the Eagles 4-0 at the outset of game No. 1, then turned it on and later enjoyed a 20-11 lead following a 12-3 run. The Bulldogs would never look back, leaning on exceptional passing from setter Alayna Kavanaugh (24 assists in the first two sets before giving way to Libby Zagel in the third) and the power of a host of attackers that combined for a .419 hitting percentage for the match.
Kavanaugh impressively distributed the ball to a bevy of hitters. Paige Getz shined on the outside, pummeling 12 kills on 19 swings. The right-hand smashes delivered by the likes of Getz, middle Mariah Schamp and many others often resulted in awkward dig attempts by Faith defenders. Junior Kelsey Dinkel also got hot in the second set when she nailed four kills in as many swings.
Concordia’s improved depth was clearly on display.
“You look down the list at how many different girls had kills and really good hitting percentages – it’s really spread out well,” Mattera said. “Paige led the way with 12 and got a lot of good swings, but huge hitting percentages from just about everybody else.
“That speaks to who we want to be – a very diverse offense where we can hit anywhere across the net. I was very happy seeing very, very little drop off when we started subbing. It speaks to depth.”
Four different Bulldogs had five or more kills, including six apiece from Schamp and sophomore Taylor Workman and five from Claire White, and seven had two or more. Plus White added five aces, all coming in succession at the beginning of the second set, in which Concordia jumped out to a 6-0 advantage.
“We started out a little slow but I think we all got together and we all did what we were supposed to do and played as a team really well,” Getz said. “It was just so nice to be able to have players come in off the bench and do well and get swings and kills.”
With the Bulldogs taking full control after taking the first two games, Mattera tinkered with the roster in the final set. Three freshmen all saw their first collegiate action as Mattera sent Annie Friesen, Jocelyn Garcia and Shannon O’Hara into the match together. O’Hara stifled a couple attacks with her two solo blocks while adding three kills.
The Eagles, a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association’s (NCCAA) Midwest Christian College Conference (MCCC), was also playing their season opener after a 20-15 campaign in 2013. Head coach Lanny Nihart’s squad got five kills from Emily Wolfe but was limited to a .102 team hitting percentage.
The Bulldogs will depart from Seward at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday as they begin a journey destined for Irvine, Calif. Concordia will play two matches each on Friday and Saturday at the Asics/Wyndham Labor Day Tournament hosted by Concordia University, Irvine. The weekend slate includes matches against two teams rated in the top 25 of the NAIA preseason coaches’ poll – No. 2 Concordia-Irvine and No. 22 Vanguard University (Calif.).
“We’re going to get tested real hard four times out there, but it should be a real good team-building trip for us and let us know where we’re at,” Mattera said.
Added Getz, “We’re really excited, not just to go to the beach but we’re playing the No. 2 team in the nation. And we have other really good competition out there so we’re really excited to see where we’re at now.”
26 August 2014
Junior Claire White