White shines in debut as Bulldogs roll through day one of 2013 season

White shines in debut as Bulldogs roll through day one of 2013 season

MONTREAT, N.C. – Second-year head coach Scott Mattera’s Bulldogs looked sharp in reeling off a 25-13, 25-22, 25-21 victory over Northwood University (Fla.) on Friday morning to open the 2013 season. Concordia followed the 9 a.m. EDT match with a 25-20, 25-18, 25-23 triumph in a matinee versus College of Coastal Georgia to begin the new campaign in style.

The Bulldogs (2-0) are in the midst of a four-match Friday-Saturday slate at the Volley in the Mountains hosted by Montreat College in Montreat, N.C.

Friday marked the Bulldog debut of Washburn University transfer Claire White, a sophomore who powered down a club high 25 combined kills on the day and teamed with junior defensive specialist Carli Smith to provide what Mattera called “picture-perfect serve receive” in both of the day’s wins.

White and company came through with an impressive performance against the Seahawks, a member of The Sun Conference who went 5-16 in 2012.

“This was a fun match to watch at times as we really saw glimpses of who we can be,” Mattera said. “It also had its moments that showed how early it is in our development.

“Game 3 was one of the most impressive games we've played since I've been here. Of our 25 points, we had 19 kills and five blocks, meaning they only made one error and we had to make 24 plays. Ask any coach – that's just a crazy number.”

Smith finished the first match with 17 digs. Junior Jami Nekoliczak also added eight digs while leading the team with 18 assists. Kayla James dished out 16 assists.

A pair of freshmen also made significant contributions as outside hitter Paige Getz of Paola, Kan., and middle Taylor Workman of Lincoln, Neb., each posted six kills versus Northwood. Sophomore Kelsey Dinkel equaled their production with six kills of her own.

“It was so good to see our leaders lead,” Mattera said. “Every big point was automatic from Claire and (Mariah) Schamp. Our young pups had some impressive moments too. We're going to have to clean up some our our coverages and continue to sharpen our connections but if our setters keep making good decisions and we keep passing like we did today, it's going to be a fun ride.”

The exhilarating ride continued against Coastal Georgia of the Southern States Athletic Conference with White again leading the way on the attack. She hammered another team high with 13 kills to power a second, straight-sets victory.

“Coastal Georgia is a nice team so I'm thrilled to get this one in straight sets,” Mattera said. “We've still got a lot of offense and blocking patterns to install, but I couldn't be more thrilled with the way we are playing this early. Claire is just so clutch on big points and it was great to see Paige Getz step up with two big kills in crunch time in that third game. Our setters are in heaven right now with this level of passing and so many hitting options.”

Every bit as active against the Mariners were the Bulldog middles with Workman coming through with 4.5 blocks and Schamp piling up three of her own. Another rookie – Alayna Kavanaugh – made herself comfortable and contributed 2.5 blocks. As a team, Concordia totaled 13 blocks.

The Bulldogs return to action on Saturday at 3 p.m. EDT when they take on Mount Vernon Nazarene (Ohio). They wrap up play from the Volley in the Mountains with a 7 p.m. EDT tussle against host Montreat. The match versus Montreat will be webcasted live HERE.

“We've got two tough ones tomorrow so we need to keep getting better every time and believe in the process,” Mattera said.

Homecoming for Nieman: The weekend trip is a homecoming for graduate assistant coach Natalie Nieman, a 2012 graduate of Montreat College. In addition, Mattera served as an assistant coach at Montreat for the 2011 season when Nieman led the Cavaliers to a berth in the NAIA National Championships.

23 August 2013

*Box scores unavailable at time of release

The Concordia volleyball team poses for a photo soon after arriving in Montreat, N.C. on Wednesday. The team began the 2013 season by claiming a pair of victories on Friday.