10-21 Overall4-12 GPACSeason Statistics

2012 Volleyball schedule/results

AUGUST/SEPTEMBER

Aug. 28 Blue-White Scrimmage Seward, Neb. 7:30 p.m.

Bellevue Labor Day Tournament: Aug. 31- Sept. 1

Aug. 31 Baker University (Kan.) Bellevue, Neb. L, 0-3
  Benedictine College (Kan.) Bellevue, Neb. W, 3-1
Sept. 1 (13) Grand View University (Iowa)
Bellevue, Neb. L, 1-3
  (19) Bellevue University Bellevue, Neb.
L, 0-3
Sept. 5 * (22) Midland University Fremont, Neb. L, 0-3

Hastings College Classic: Sept. 7-8

Sept. 7 Peru State College
Hastings, Neb.
W, 3-1
  McPherson College (Kan.)
Hastings, Neb.
W, 3-1
Sept. 8  (12) Oklahoma Baptist University Hastings, Neb.
L, 0-3
  College of the Ozarks (Mo.)
Hastings, Neb.
L, 1-3
Sept. 11 * (14) Doane College   Seward, Neb. L, 0-3
Sept. 14 * Northwestern College  Orange City, Iowa L, 0-3
Sept. 15 Dakota State University Madison, S.D. L, 0-3
Sept. 18  * Nebraska Wesleyan University  Lincoln, Neb.  W, 3-1
Sept. 22  * Dakota Wesleyan University   Seward, Neb.  W, 3-2
Sept. 26  * (7) Hastings College  Hastings, Neb.  L, 0-3
Sept. 29  * Morningside College Sioux City, Iowa  L, 1-3

OCTOBER

Oct. 2 York College  York, Neb. W, 3-2
Oct. 5
* Briar Cliff University   Seward, Neb. 
W, 3-2
Oct. 6
* Mount Marty College  
Seward, Neb. 
W, 3-0
Oct. 10
* (23) Midland University  
Seward, Neb. 
L, 0-3 
Oct. 13
* Dakota Wesleyan University
Mitchell, S.D.
L, 1-3
Oct. 16
* Nebraska Wesleyan University  
Seward, Neb. 
L, 2-3

Clarke University Tournament: Oct. 19 - 20

Oct. 19 Cardinal Stritch University (Wis.) Dubuque, Iowa L, 0-3
  Clarke (Iowa) Dubuque, Iowa L, 0-3
Oct. 20 Purdue North Central (Ind.)
Dubuque, Iowa W, 3-0
  Judson University (Ill.)
Dubuque, Iowa
W, 3-2
Oct. 24
* (19) Doane College
Crete, Neb. L, 2-3
Oct. 27
* Dordt College 
Sioux Center, Iowa
L, 0-3

NOVEMBER

Nov. 1  * (5) Hastings College  
Seward, Neb. 
L, 1-3
Nov. 3 * Northwestern College  
Seward, Neb. 
L, 0-3

GPAC Tournament: Nov. 6 - 10

Nov. 6 GPAC Quarterfinals at (5) Hastings  Hastings, Neb. L, 0-3

*Indicates Great Plains Athletic Conference Games

All Home Matches in BOLD

2012 Volleyball roster

No. Name Ht Class Pos Hometown Previous school
1 Katie Peterson 5-8 Fr. M/OH Ord, Neb. Ord
2 Brianna Hughes 5-11 So. M/RS San Diego, Calif. Concordia University Irvine
3 Jami Nekoliczak 5-5 So. S Greeley, Neb. Greeley-Wolbach
5 Mariah Schamp 5-10 So. MB Arvada, Colo. Ralston Valley
6 Kendra Dinkel 5-4 Fr. DS Norfolk, Neb. Lutheran Northeast
7 Kim Miller 5-9 Sr. RS Mason City, Iowa Mason City
8 Samantha McConnell 6-0 Fr. M/RS Atlantic, Iowa Atlantic
9 Angela Bruhn 5-8 Sr. OH Creston, Neb. Leigh
10 Tiffany Patrick 5-8 Fr. S/RS Carson City, Nev. Sierra Lutheran
11 Amanda Abbott 5-11 So. MB/OH Temecula, Calif. Chaparral
12 Michala Maurer 5-8 So. RS Columbus, Neb. Lakeview
13 Elizabeth Zagel 5-8 Fr. S/RS Brighton, Colo. Brighton
14 Morgan Stover 5-9 Jr. S/RS Columbus, Neb. Lakeview
15 Carli Smith 5-3 So. DS Temecula, Calif. Temecula Valley
16 Jillian Jensen 5-7 Jr. OH Lincoln, Neb. Lincoln High
17 Kayla Sombke 5-3 Fr. DS Indianapolis, Ind. Lutheran
18 Naomi Pfeil 5-8 Fr. OH/DS Hiawatha, Iowa Cedar Rapids Kennedy
19 Emily Metschke 5-9 So. OH Lincoln, Neb. Lincoln Lutheran
20 Lindsea Vaudt 5-9 Sr. S Kalispell, Mont. Glacier
21 Taylor Gager 5-5 Fr. DS/S Arvada, Colo. Lutheran
22 Kayla James 5-6 So. S Gibbon, Neb. Kearney Catholic
24 Rachel Cutler 5-9 So. OH Kalispell, Mont. Glacier
25 Jennifer Smith 5-10 Jr. MB Grafton, Neb. Nebraska Christian
26 Elise Ortmeier 5-5 Jr. DS Beemer, Neb. Wisner-Pilger
28 Audrey Mehl 5-7 So. OH Concordia, Mo. St. Paul Lutheran
29 Kelsey Dinkel 5-9 Fr. OH Norfolk, Neb. Lutheran Northeast
30 Amanda Kisker 5-10 Sr. OH Lincoln, Neb. Lincoln Lutheran/Dana College

Coaching Staff

Head Coach: Scott Mattera

Graduate Assistant: Alex Szalawiga

Rachel Miller to step down as volleyball coach

23 JAN 2012

Concordia University has announced that Rachel Miller is resigning her position of head volleyball coach.  Miller spent the past seven years as head volleyball coach at her alma mater. 

“We want to thank Rachel for her commitment to the Bulldog volleyball program as head coach,” said Devin Smith, Concordia University Athletic Director.  “She also had a tremendous career as a student-athlete here at Concordia, and she represents what it means to be a true champion of character.  She will always be a part of our Bulldog athletic department through the relationships she has built with the staff and student-athletes.” 

Miller totaled a combined 65 wins in her first three seasons at the helm of the Bulldog volleyball program.  Concordia totaled at least 20 wins in each of those seasons.  She finished with over 100 wins in her Bulldog coaching career and was inducted into the Concordia University Athletic Hall of Fame this past year for her efforts in both volleyball and basketball during her collegiate career. 

“I am thankful for the opportunity to coach and be a part of the lives of many young women over the past seven years,” said Miller.  “I have greatly enjoyed working at my alma mater, and I wish the program and university the best.  However, I believe the needs and requirements of the volleyball program are taking me in a different direction than my commitment to my family.” 

Concordia University will begin a search for its next volleyball coach immediately.  The position and application details will be available on the Concordia University website as soon as possible. 

Bulldogs sign two for 2012-13 season

02 MAR 2012

The Concordia University (Neb.) volleyball program signed two new additions for the 2012-13 season, adding Tiffany Patrick and Naomi Pfeil.  Patrick is a 5’8’’ setter from Sierra Lutheran High in Carson City, Nev.  While Pfeil is a 5’8’’ libero/outside hitter from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. 

Patrick was a four year letter winner in both volleyball and basketball. As a Falcon, she was named to the Northern Nevada 1A Second Team and team MVP as a freshman.  She was also named to the Northern Nevada 1A All Division First Team and team MVP in both her sophomore and junior seasons. As a senior, Patrick helped her team reach the state championships for the first time in school history.  She went on to earn the Northern Nevada 1A League MVP and Reno Gazette-Journal Northern Nevada 1A MVP.  In addition, Patrick served as the Falcons’ captain during each of her four years. Academically, Patrick was a 4.0 GPA honor roll student and has received recognition in multiple areas of study, receiving the Algebra Award (2009), the Computer Award (2010), and the Spanish Award (2011).  At Concordia, she looks to pursue a degree in chemistry.

"Tiffany attended our volleyball camps last summer, she was a great fit from the start! While on the court, Tiffany was continually looking to improve her game and I believe she'll continue to do that during her time at Concordia University, Nebraska,” said head coach Rachel Miller.  “It is our goal to bring in student-athletes like Tiffany who strive for excellence in all areas of their lives!"

A two year letter winner in both volleyball and track, Pfiel joins Concordia from Cedar Rapids Kennedy High.  As a Cougar, Pfiel received the Hustle Award as a freshman and received the same recognition along with team MVP in her sophomore season. As a senior, Pfeil was Honorable Mention All-Metro and All-Mississippi Valley Conference. She helped her team to a third place finish at state in three of her four years. Pfeil looks to pursue a degree in art while attending Concordia.

"Naomi is a great defensive player who works hard and goes after everything until the ball is down,” said Miller.  “That kind of mentality is difficult to teach. She's a great fit for our team and school, and I'm excited that Naomi has chosen to continue her career at Concordia University!"

Class of 2012-13 grows to five with three new signees

21 MAR 2012

The Concordia University (Neb.) volleyball program inked three more for the 2012-13 season as Katelyn Peterson, Kayla Sombke and Elizabeth Zagel have officially signed letters of intent to play for the Bulldogs next season.   Peterson, Sombke and Zagel join Tiffany Patrick and Naomi Pfeil as the class of 2012-13. 

Peterson is a 5’8’’ middle/outside hitter from Ord, Neb.  She earned a combined 10 letters in volleyball (four), basketball (four) and track (two) at Ord High School.  As a Chanticleer, Peterson guided her squad to a combined 49-15 record over the past two seasons.  As a senior, Peterson led Ord to the Class C2 State Championship Final and a 27-7 record.  She concluded her senior season by earning All-State Honorable Mention and was an all-conference selection.  In addition, Peterson was a two-time Academic All-Star selection. 

“While playing middle for her high school, Katie is a dynamic athlete who has the capability of playing multiple positions in the front row,” said Concordia head coach Rachel Miller. 

A 5’3’’ defensive specialist/libero from Indianapolis, Ind., Sombke joins Concordia after playing two seasons at Lutheran High School of Indianapolis.  Sombke was the co-captain for the Saints last season after helping the team to a second place finish in the Indiana State Championship as a junior.  She was recognized by her team as the top passer and serve/receive specialist following the 2011 season.  A two-time National Honor Society recipient, Sombke intends to pursue a degree in Early Childhood at Concordia. 

“Kayla’s love of the sport, hard work and dedication will help her grow tremendously as a student-athlete, and we’re anxious to start working with her,” noted Miller.

Zagel is a 5’8’’ setter and right side hitter from Brighton, Colo.  A three-year letter winner for Brighton High School, Zagel received Eastern Metro Athletic Conference Honorable Mention following the 2011 season.  The Bulldogs team captain, Zagel led Brighton HS to a 14-8 record last season.  She led the team with 193 assists and also posted 67 kills.

“Libby has a strong fundamental base and, with hard work, she has the capability to excel at Concordia,” said Miller.  “This is a great environment for Libby to grow physically, academically and spiritually!”

“We are excited that Katie, Kayla and Libby have decided to continue their education and volleyball careers at Concordia University, Nebraska,” concluded Miller.

Bulldogs name Scott Mattera new head women's volleyball coach

30 MAR 2012

Concordia University, Nebraska, announced today that Scott Mattera has been named the Bulldogs' women's volleyball head coach.  Mattera will also be serving in an athletic administration game management role at Concordia

“Concordia is blessed to have coach Mattera leading our program.  He has coached at both NAIA and NCAA Division I institutions, so we are confident in his volleyball expertise and recruiting experience,” said Scott Seevers, vice president for enrollment, student life and athletics.

“He has a proven track record as the head coach of a high profile high school program in Ohio, which displays his leadership and program-building skills.”

Mattera comes to Concordia after serving most recently as the top assistant coach at Montreat College in Montreat, N.C.  Mattera helped guide the Cavaliers to a 25-14 record last season and a berth in the NAIA National Championship Tournament.  In addition to coaching at Montreat, Mattera assisted with game management and taught in the sport management department.

Prior to Montreat, Mattera was a volunteer assistant coach at the University of Toledo during the 2010 season.  During his one season with the Lady Rockets, Toledo upset the University of Michigan as well as the Creighton Blue Jays.  Mattera also helped guide the Lady Rockers to a 3-0 victory over the top seeded Ball State Cardinals in the Mid-American Conference tournament. 

Mattera's administrative background  includes being the owner and general manager of Synergy Sports and Fitness of Toledo, a 60,000 square foot volleyball and fitness facility, from 2004-06.

“I’m extraordinarily grateful for the opportunity to serve our Lord and teach life lessons through the sport of volleyball at such a wonderful place,” said Mattera.  “We are going to work hard, play hard, enjoy our time striving together, and take pride in representing Concordia University, Nebraska, both on and off the court.”

Mattera holds a decorated coaching history in the Ohio high school ranks. He began his career in 2002 as the JV coach of St. Ursula Academy.  In two years, he compiled a record of 44-3, winning back-to-back city championships.  After taking a year off to open Synergy Sports and Fitness, Mattera returned to high school coaching as the head coach at Notre Dame Academy from 2005-10.  In just his second year with the Notre Dame Academy the Eagles knocked off St. Ursula, ending their 139-match winning streak. 

Notre Dame Academy went on to win back-to-back city championships in 2007 and 2008 and won the district in 2007, the first in school history.  Mattera was awarded the City League and District Coach of the Year in 2006 & 2007, and his teams were consistently ranked both in state and national polls. During his time at Notre Dame Academy, the Eagles produced five Division-1 college athletes, in addition to numerous D2, D3, NAIA, and NJCAA recruits.

“I’m fired up and ready to hit the ground running. Concordia has the infrastructure and the spirit to really build something special,” noted Mattera.

Mattera earned his bachelor's degree in finance from the University of Toledo in 2001, graduating with honors while also playing for the men's club volleyball team.  He is currently working towards a master's degree at University of Toledo, focusing on sports sociology.   

“Scott brings a wealth of experience from the high school ranks, to NAIA, and the NCAA D1 level.  His experience with re-vitalizing programs to a high level of competitiveness, both as a head coach and an assistant has been well-documented,” said Devin Smith, athletic director for Concordia.  “More importantly, Scott demonstrates a strong passion for nurturing students through the opportunities created in one’s life: academically, personally, and competitively.  He is going to bring a sense of enthusiasm that is contagious for all of us.” 

Volleyball squad amps up spring workouts

21 MAY 2012

The Concordia University, Nebraska, volleyball team finished the 2012 school year out strong with a busy spring season and on new footing with recently hired head coach Scott Mattera.

Through the months of January and February the Bulldogs completed a well-rounded conditioning program consisting of weights, aerobic work, plyometrics and open gyms. With the help of assistant strength and conditioning coach Dan Margritz, the team was ready to hit the courts when official practices began.

March brought a change of pace for the team. Besides practice, conditioning, and tournament schedule, Concordia was also selecting its new head coach.

The Bulldogs participated in two tournaments, one at home and the other at Nebraska Wesleyan University.  Both tournaments hosted GPAC competitors Hastings, Doane and NWU, all of whom the Bulldogs will see this fall. The Bulldogs faired well against all three teams, winning several games in the informal setting.

The team wrapped up spring play by getting a taste of head coach Scott Mattera’s high energy style with a few clinic-like practices, open gyms and fitness testing.  After a few weeks of rest and recovery, the Bulldogs will head into their summer workout program.

See also: 

Bulldogs announce 2012 schedule

31 MAY 2012

The Concordia University, Nebraska women’s volleyball team has released its fall 2012 schedule, featuring 31 contests including three road tournaments and just eight home dates in Walz Arena. 

“With so many matches on the road, we are going to find out who we are very quickly,” said head coach Scott Mattera. “Every match is a highlight match, but I’m sure people will point to our home rivalry matches like Doane and Nebraska Wesleyan."

A few of the featured events scheduled for the 2012 season are an alumni game after the match against Dakota Wesleyan on Sept. 22 and senior day against Northwestern on Nov. 3. 

The 2012 season will kick off with the annual Blue and White Scrimmage on Tuesday, Aug. 28, at 7:30 p.m., providing a sneak preview of the team before they leave for a season-opening tournament at Bellevue University in Bellevue, Neb. 

Bulldogs add five to 2012-13 class, raising incoming group to 10

06 JUN 2012

University of Concordia, Nebraska head volleyball coach Scott Mattera has announced five additional recruits for the 2012-13 season signing Kelsey Dinkel, Kendra Dinkel, Taylor Gager, Brianna Hughes andSamantha McConnell to letters of intent this spring. The new quintet joins Tiffany Patrick, Katelyn Peterson, Naomi Pfeil, Kayla Sombke and Elizabeth Zagel as the class of 2012-13.

Kelsey Dinkel is a 5' 9'' outside hitter from Norfolk, Neb.  A decorated athlete, Dinkel earned a combined 10 letters in volleyball, basketball, soccer and track.  Dinkel earned all-state honorable mention following both her junior and senior seasons.  

Kendra Dinkel is a 5' 4'' libero from Norfolk, Neb. The sister of fellow signee, Kelsey, Kendra collected 11 athletic letters at Lutheran Northeast High in volleyball (four), basketball (four), soccer (two) and track (one).  Individually, Kendra was named to the C2 All-State First Team last season and will be playing with the Northeast Nebraska All-Star volleyball team this June.

The Dinkel sisters combined to lead the Eagles to an astounding 34-1 record in 2011, capping their high school career by leading the Eagles to back-to-back Nebraska C-2 State Championships.  Over the final three seasons at Lutheran Northeast, the Dinkels and the Eagles posted a combined record of 101-4 record.  

A 5' 5'' setter and libero, Gager comes to Concordia from Arvada, Colo.  As a Lion at Lutheran High School in Parker, Colo., Gager raked in a combined nine athletic letters in volleyball (three), basketball (four) and track (two).  A Colorado All-State selection last season, Gager is a two time Academic All-Conference First Team member and nabbed all-conference second team honors as a junior.  Last season, Gager led the Lions to the Colorado 2A State Championship.

Hughes is a 5' 11'' outside hitter/middle blocker from San Diego, Calif.  Hughes comes to Concordia, Nebraska after spending the 2011-12 season at Concordia, Irvine.  With the Eagles, Hughes appeared in 39 matches, collecting 159 kills and a .308 hitting percentage.  She attended Lutheran High School in San Diego, Calif., earning 10 letters in volleyball (four), basketball (four) and softball (two).  In her final season with the Knights, Hughes earned all-conference first team honors and was named the team MVP. 

Rounding out the Bulldogs' new additions is McConnell, a 6' 0'' middle blocker from Atlantic, Iowa.  McConnel joins Concordia from Atlantic High School, where she collected seven athletic letters in volleyball (one), basketball (three) and track (three).  As a senior, McConnell earned all-conference honorable mention and earned the Hawkeye Ten Academic All-Conference award. 

“When you start looking into the resumes of this class you see a lot of team championships and individual honors," said Mattera.  "These ladies come from winning programs and are used to success.  I think they will bring a level of expectation and confidence to our program.”

"I’m very grateful to [former head coach] Miller and [graduate assistant coach Szalawiga] for their work before I arrived. They’ve brought in a great class and I’m excited to begin building relationships with all of the new members of the Bulldog family," said Mattera.  "It’s not just quality volleyball here, it’s quality people that will enhance who we are both on and off the court!”

Kisker finds home as Bulldog

26 JUL 2012

By Jake Knabel, Sports Information Director

The summer of 2010 brought shock to many then-Dana College students, including current Concordia senior-to-be Amanda Kisker. On this particular late-June day, Kisker’s roommate, with distress in her voice, shared the jarring news.

“I could tell she was upset,” Kisker said of the phone conversation. “And she kept going on about some email from the Dana president about it closing. A little confused, I went home and read the email myself. In summary, it explained that the Higher Learning Commission denied Dana’s switch to a for-profit organization and they would be closing their doors immediately.”

The closure of Dana College following Kisker’s freshman year left her scrambling to find a new home. A starting outside hitter on the 2009 Viking volleyball team that went 22-14, Kisker once again had to go shopping for the right college.

“I spent the next week visiting three colleges and talking to over 15 different admissions counselors and coaches,” Kisker said. “It was rather stressful.  I mean, it was hard enough to pick a school the first time around and here I was being forced to do it again and on a short time table.”

After carefully considering three schools, the Lincoln, Neb., native selected Concordia. Her new community proved to be a great fit. She already knew a handful of fellow students from her prep days at nearby Lincoln Lutheran High School and was familiar with then-Bulldog head coach Rachel Miller.

“After all my visits and conversations with coaches/admissions counselors Concordia felt like the best option,” Kisker said. “I had a good feeling about this place and was thankful for everything they were able to do for me. The financial aid they were able to offer was really helpful, and the ability to fit me into classes just four weeks before they began was also comforting.”

Kisker made an immediate impact. She became a starter on the volleyball team right away and has played in all 64 of the team’s matches since she arrived on campus. She posted 213 kills in 2010 and then boosted that number to 315 in 2011.

Now entering her third year at Concordia, the two-time GPAC Honorable Mention All-Conference selection sees the upheaval with the benefit of senior perspective.

“I’m so incredibly blessed by the way things worked out and I couldn’t be happier,” Kisker said. “Sometimes I look back and think about how different my life would be had Dana remained open. I loved the school, the memories and the friendships I made, but Concordia is the best place for me. The opportunities I’ve had here aren’t comparable to what I’d receive anywhere else.”

Away from the court, Kisker has been an outstanding student and worker as Concordia’s social media coordinator.

“Throughout the school year I do a lot with the social media. So yes, that means I get paid to be on Facebook,” Kisker said.

According to Dan Oetting, her supervisor in Concordia's marketing office, Kisker is already doing work at a level beyond her years.

"She's been a terrific asset for us," Oetting said. "To do this work requires maturity, tact and a handful of other talents that are hard to find in college graduates, let alone in an undergraduate. We've been able to trust her to be one of Concordia's main voices through social media."

Kisker’s work ethic and leadership has already drawn rave reviews from first-year head volleyball coach Scott Mattera, who has greatly appreciated Kisker’s approach as he gets his feet wet.

“Amanda and Kim (Miller) – two of our returning seniors that saw significant time last year have done a fantastic job of leading,” Mattera said. “Amanda’s been here all summer in the marketing department, so she’s been around a lot and has helped take over some of the organizational stuff. Getting girls to open gyms and following up with workouts and things like that – really taking on that (leadership) role.

“Amanda’s been in the gym working with our setters to better connect on the outside with them, so I think we’re going to see big seasons out of both of them.”

With her final collegiate volleyball season upon her, Kisker hopes to help the program trend upward again. But no matter what happens on the court this season, she will always look back fondly at her time as a Bulldog.

“It took quite the interesting route, but I’m so thankful for everything academically, athletically and socially I’ve experienced at Concordia,” Kisker said. “Choosing to transfer to this university has been one of the best decisions I have made.”

Energized volleyball program begins new era

30 AUG 2012

At a glance:
Head Coach:
 Scott Mattera (first year)
2011 Record: 11-21 Overall; 4-12 Great Plains Athletic Conference
Returning Starters: 4
Key Returners: MB/OH Amanda Abbott, OH Angela Bruhn, S Kayla James, OH Amanda Kisker, RS Kim Miller, MB Mariah Schamp, L Carli Smith
Key Losses: MB Marlee Denton, S Alexa Hopping, MB Ashlea Vaudt
2011 GPAC All-Conference (*denotes returnee): Marlee Denton (Honorable Mention), *Amanda Kisker (Honorable Mention)


Seven-year head coach Rachel Miller decided to step down following the 2011 season to spend more time with her family. The Bulldog athletics Hall of Famer gives way to the energetic Scott Mattera, who brings NCAA Division I, NAIA and high school coaching experience to the position.

Mattera inherits a squad that went 11-21 overall with a 4-12 GPAC mark in 2011. Since beginning at Concordia late in the 2011-12 school year, the University of Toledo alumnus has been blown away by the infectious enthusiasm throughout the entire roster.

“The attitude, the energy and the spirit of the girls – it’s amazing,” said Mattera, most recently the top assistant coach at Montreat College (N.C.). “We literally have a team with zero drama. They really cheer for each other but are willing to compete with each other for spots. The energy level surrounding the program right now is awesome. They really believe in what we’re doing and what our future holds.”

That positive atmosphere has been fostered by seniors like outside hitter Amanda Kisker (2011 GPAC Honorable Mention All-Conference) and right side Kim Miller. In the midst of the coaching transition, the duo has been a rock for a program looking to return to the success it had from 2005 to 2007 when it averaged almost 22 wins per season.

“They’ve just done a good job of buying in and letting everyone else know that they’re on board for their last season and looking really good,” Mattera said. “Kim actually improved hugely athletically. She was touching about 9’7” when we did our testing before we left (for the summer). So I’m really excited about having that type of athlete on the right side to give us a good, solid block out there. Amanda’s been in the gym working with our setters to better connect on the outside with them, so I think we’re going to see big seasons out of both of them.”

The biggest change stylistically comes within the team’s offensive system. The Bulldogs got their first taste of this shift during the spring season. For Kisker, one word describes the schematic transition best.

“Faster – he wants to run everything faster,” Kisker said. “Setting-wise, he wants to do quicker sets middle to the outside but maybe slow it down behind for the right side. You get going faster, you can pass quickly and get your offense going, you’re going to beat teams to the block and get points.”

“We’re basically running a spread offense,” Mattera said. “It’s not a volleyball term, it’s a football term, but it’s a similar concept where we’re looking for good matchups and getting hitters into space. Overall, we’re going to find out a lot when we get in the gym and really start practicing system-wise.”

Kisker will play a key role in the more frenetic offense. The 5-foot-10 Lincoln native paced the squad last season with 315 kills, which placed her 12th in the GPAC.

She will get plenty of help from a sophomore class that was thrown to the fire in 2011. Middle blocker/outside hitter Amanda Abbott, setter Kayla James, middle blocker Mariah Schamp and libero Carli Smith each played in at least 22 of the team’s 32 matches last season. Smith led the team with 350 digs, while Schamp topped Concordia with 84 block assists.

The incoming freshmen class will need some time to get acquainted with the atmosphere of college athletics, but defensive specialist Naomi Pfeil could see time immediately. Pfeil and many of the other nine newcomers bring winning pedigrees to Seward. Middle blocker/outside hitter Brianna Hughes transferred to the Bulldogs after beginning her career with perennial power Concordia Irvine (Calif.).

Middle blockers Marlee Denton (2011 GPAC Honorable Mention All-Conference) and Ashlea Vaudt and setter Alexa Hopping (led team with 546 assists in 2011) have graduated, but Kisker sees no reason to expect the program to do anything but move forward.

“I have higher expectations than we’ve had in the past,” Kisker said. “So many people have improved. We started three or four freshmen last year so now they have a year under their belts and know what’s going on. The transition to a new coach will be a little different. He’s going to run things a little different, but we expect to be better than last year. He says it all the time, ‘We’re going to win more games.’ And he’s told me, ‘I’m going to make you have a good senior season.’”

The positive environment harbored by Miller throughout her tenure has carried over thus far in Mattera’s first months on the job. This winning attitude along with top-notch facilities has Mattera ecstatic in his new digs.

“Walk in and look around. It’s an amazing place to call home,” Mattera said. “We have facilities that are second to none. I’ve come up the D-I route and been part of that. Our facilities and infrastructure are absolutely Division I level. Then we match that with the spirit that actually cares about the entire person, not just their vertical or their arm swing, and that’s why I’m here.”

The Mattera era gets started on Friday at 1 p.m. when the Bulldogs square off with Baker (Kan.) as part of the Bellevue Labor Day Tournament. Concordia plays again on Friday against Benedictine (Kan.) at 5 p.m. and then on Saturday faces No. 13 Grand View (Iowa) at 1:30 p.m. and No. 19 Belleuve at 5:30 p.m. The Bulldogs' first home match is Sept. 11 versus GPAC rival Doane at 7:30 p.m.

Mattera, spikers net first victory

31 AUG 2012

BELLEVUE, Neb. - Scott Mattera netted his first victory as head volleyball coach of the Bulldogs on Friday as Concordia salvaged a split on day one of the Bellevue Labor Day Classic in Bellevue, Neb. The Bulldogs began the 2012 campaign Friday with a loss to Baker (Kan.), but rebounded by trumping Benedictine (Kan.) to cap the evening.

“It's great to see the work rewarded with a nice win,” Mattera said. “We've only been together for two weeks and we are way ahead of where we should be system wise. I couldn't be happier with our play today as at times it displayed how good we can be. We've got a long ways to go but the future looks fantastic.”

Senior outside hitter Amanda Kisker hit only .148 in the loss to Baker, but she came on strong with a sizzling .382 attack percentage and a match-high 16 kills in the night cap. Kisker was complimented by the great work of setters Kayla James (21 assists) and Jami Nekoliczak (15 assists). The trio fueled the 25-14, 19-25, 25-19, 25-23 win.

Concordia set the tone in the victory over the Ravens by scorching the ball to the tune of a .414 hitting percentage in the opening set. The Bulldogs cooled off after the first game, but continued to control play and held off hard-charging Benedictine in the deciding fourth set. For the match, Concordia earned a .196-.144 advantage on the attack.

In the team’s first match of the day, the Bulldogs played well despite losing in straight sets, 25-21, 25-16, 25-20, to a Baker team that received votes in the NAIA preseason coaches’ poll. Concordia dictated much of the action with many points put away on Bulldog kills or errors.

Sophomore Amanda Abbott paced Concordia with 13 kills behind a solid .300 hitting percentage, while sophomore defensive specialist Carli Smith notched a match-high 21 digs. However, Mattera and company could not overcome 31 total errors and were out-hit .255-.211.

“We did a lot of very good things in this match,” Mattera said. “We are not OK with losing matches, but we certainly were happy with several aspects of our play. We looked like a team playing its first match of the year in a totally new system against a team playing its fifth match of the year, which is exactly what this matchup was.”

The Wildcats of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference, who entered play at 2-2 overall, got seven kills each from Danielle French and Savannah Smith.

The Bulldogs continue action in Bellevue on Saturday when they take on a pair of top-20 teams. They begin the day with No. 13 Grand View (Iowa) at 1:30 p.m. before finishing up with host and No. 19 Bellevue at 5:30 p.m.

Bulldogs drop two at Bellevue Labor Day Classic

01 SEP 2012

BELLEVUE, Neb. – Saturday’s stiff competition provided the Bulldog volleyball team with an early-season measuring stick. Concordia (1-3) succumbed 25-20, 24-26, 25-12, 25-13 to No. 13 Grand View (Iowa) in its first match of the day. Head coach Scott Mattera’s squad then completed its four-match slate at the Bellevue Labor Day Classic with a 25-14, 25-21, 25-22 loss to No. 19 Bellevue.

Concordia competed admirably with the Vikings, the defending Midwest Collegiate Conference champions, for the first two sets as it evened the match at 1-1 after taking game No. 2, 26-24. But Grand View asserted itself in the closing third and fourth sets with dominant, 25-12, 25-13, decisions. The Vikings’ Kadie Subbert enjoyed a big day, going for 15 kills on the strength of a .517 hitting percentage.

The Bulldogs were led by the 10 kills from senior outside hitter Amanda Kisker. Sophomore defensive specialist Carli Smith paced the team with 25 digs while sophomore setter Jami Nekoliczak had 19 assists. Despite hitting only .094 as a team, Mattera was pleased with his squad’s effort against one of the nation’s top teams.

“It showed how effective we can be when we pass well and show great mental hustle,” Mattera said. “It also showed how difficult things can get when we lose our edge. Overall our serve receive was fantastic.

“We were so high after that game 2 win that we couldn't help but come down some. We need to get to get to the point that we can stay high and expect performances like that and sustain it. We are young and learning and this was a very valuable lesson for us as we move forward and I'm glad it happened early in the season.”

The Bruins then swept Concordia in straight sets in the final match of the weekend for both teams. Sophomore Amanda Abbott struck for a match-high 10 kills, but the Bulldogs could not overcome a .287-.126 disadvantage in attack percentage.

Nekoliczak added 13 assists and three service aces and sophomore Kayla James tallied 17 assists and seven digs for Concordia. Annie Benson and Sydney Deboer led Belleuve with eight kills apiece.

All three of the Bulldogs losses over the weekend in Bellevue came to teams either ranked in the NAIA preseason coaches’ poll or receiving votes.

Concordia begins Great Plains Athletic Conference play on Sept. 5 when it travels to Fremont, Neb., to challenge Midland.

Bulldogs swept away in GPAC opener

05 SEP 2012

FREMONT, Neb. – No. 22 Midland University, fresh off the school’s first-ever national ranking with Tuesday’s poll release, showed why they are among the NAIA’s top 25 teams on Wednesday night. The Warriors overpowered the visiting Bulldogs, 25-19, 25-15, 25-10.

Concordia (1-4, 0-1 GPAC) got out in front 8-4 in the opening set, but quickly relinquished the lead in what proved to be a dominant performance for Midland in the GPAC opener for both squads. The Warriors’ .308 to - .028 advantage on the attack told the story on this night.

Midland sophomore outside hitter Ashley Wheeler posted a sizzling .409 hitting percentage while totaling a match-high 12 kills. Wheeler was put in good position all night by sophomore setter Megan Farley, who piled up 26 assists.

Senior outside hitter Amanda Kisker notched a team-high six kills for the Bulldogs, while sophomore setter Kayla James added eight assists and sophomore defensive specialist Carli James tallied eight digs.

Concordia, in the midst of a difficult schedule to open the season, played its third-straight match against a ranked opponent on Wednesday. The Bulldogs also suffered losses to then No. 13 Grand View (Iowa) and then No. 19 Bellevue (Neb.) at the Bellevue Labor Day Classic on Sept. 1.

Concordia now looks forward to the Hastings Tournament on Friday and Saturday when it will play two matches on each day, highlighted by another battle with Grand View on Saturday. The Bulldogs will then host Doane on Sept. 11 in the team’s home opener.

Volleyball schedule update

07 SEP 2012

Modifications have been made to both this weekend's Hastings College Classic and to the Clarke University Tournament to be held Oct. 19-20 in Dubuque, Iowa.

Scott Mattera's squad is now scheduled to play Peru State at 4 p.m. today (Friday) and McPherson (Kan.) at 8 p.m. as part of the eight-team Hastings College Classic in Hastings, Neb. On Saturday, Concordia battles No. 12 Oklahoma Baptist at 12 p.m. and College of the Ozarks (Mo.) at 4 p.m.

The Bulldogs, one of six teams in the Clarke University Tournament field, will play two matches each day, beginning with a matchup with Graceland (Iowa) at 2 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 19 prior to a tussle with Purdue North Central (Ind.) at 6 p.m. to close the day.

On Saturday, Oct. 20, Concordia draws Judson (Ill.) at 10 a.m. and Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) at 12 p.m. All matches will be played at the Kehl Center on the Clarke campus.

The Bulldogs were originally scheduled to play Judson and Clarke (Iowa) on Oct. 19 and then Purdue North Central and Graceland on Oct. 20.

Amandas spur Bulldogs to pair of wins

07 SEP 2012

HASTINGS, Neb. – The Bulldogs enjoyed a sweep of a pair of Friday matches at the Hastings College Classic in Hastings, Neb. Concordia shook off a lopsided loss to No. 22 Midland on Wednesday and played some of their best volleyball of the young season.

The Bulldogs (3-4, 0-1 GPAC) used an efficient effort in netting a 27-25, 25-22, 23-25, 25-17 victory over in-state rival Peru State. The Bulldogs spread the attack around as sophomore Amanda Abbott collected a match-high 20 kills and senior outside hitter Amanda Kisker put down 17 kills. Sophomore middle blocker Mariah Schamp added 10 kills and senior right side Kim Miller posted nine.

Concordia got on a roll in the deciding fourth set in dispatching of the Bobcats, a member of the Heart of America Athletic Conference.

“We had a couple of lulls but the girls really pulled themselves together and learned a valuable lesson today,” Bulldog head coach Scott Mattera said. “We went on a 16-4 run to end the match, which is exactly what we needed to do and are capable of doing.”

The Amandas were at it again in match No. 2 of the day. The Bulldogs put away McPherson (Kan.), of the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference, in similar four-set fashion, 25-19, 25-21, 21-25, 25-22. Abbott and Kisker each hammered 14 kills in a strong effort that saw Concordia keep another team nicknamed the “Bulldogs” off balance. Concordia also swatted 11 aces on the way to victory.

“They had a fantastic middle so it was key for us to play smart and keep them out of system,” Mattera said. “This match really tested our volleyball IQ. When we made good choices, we won. If we made bad choices, we lost. Fortunately we made enough good ones to pull out the victory. I couldn't be more proud of how the girls bounced back from Wednesday night.”

Concordia will finish up at the Hastings College Classic with two more matches on Saturday. Mattera’s squad will play a nationally-ranked team for the fourth time this season when it squares off with No. 12 Oklahoma Baptist at 12 p.m. The Bulldogs conclude the day with College of the Ozarks (Mo.) at 4 p.m. They will then host their home opener on Sept. 11 when No. 11 Doane pays a visit to Walz Arena.

Concordia concludes 2-2 Hastings trip

08 SEP 2012

By Taylor Mueller, Sports Information Assistant

HASTINGS, Neb. – After an impressive showing yesterday that included two four-set victories at the Hastings College Classic, the Bulldogs looked to continue their winning ways in their first match against 12th-ranked Oklahoma Baptist.

After a slow start in game one, Concordia (3-6, 0-1 GPAC) came back to life to tighten things up in the next two games. They came up short, however, and lost the match 25-14, 25-20, 25-21.

Head coach Scott Mattera was optimistic after the first match and was pleased with the performance that his team came up with after the first game.

“After that first game, we really played well against a very good nationally-ranked team,” Mattera said. “You could see us getting better each game and our systems were working both offensively and defensively. We made some poor decisions but most, if not all, were based on trying to do too much. I can't fault the effort at all and the girls know how well they played and how close we are getting to being a very good volleyball team.

“We played solid, clean volleyball and tallied only seven hitting errors on the match. (The match was) by far our cleanest of the year.”

Offensively, sophomore Jami Necoliczak led the way with 14 assists while senior Amanda Kisker contributed with seven kills and added 14 digs defensively.

In the second match, the Bulldogs squared off against College of the Ozarks in a four-set battle.

After dropping a tight first game (25-23), Concordia fought back to win the second game, 25-18. It would be the Bulldogs last victory of the day, however, as they lost the final two matches 25-20, 25-14.

Sophomore Mariah Schamp had an impressive performance with 11 kills on 16 attempts.

Although disappointed in the losses, Mattera came away excited about the growth of his team.

“(College of the Ozarks) really caught fire in games three and four and we just didn't match them when they stepped it up,” Mattera said. “Games one and two were some of the best ball we played all year.” 

“(There are) lots of positives from this one but learning that competitive, confidence mindset is still something we are working on,” Mattera said. “We are making progress and I have zero doubt that we will get there.”

Concordia now looks forward to its home opener when No. 11 Doane visits Seward on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

Bulldogs fall to Doane in home opener

11 SEP 2012

SEWARD, Neb. – Up against its fifth nationally-ranked opponent already this season, the battle-tested Bulldog volleyball squad understood what kind of effort it would take to compete with No. 14 Doane. However, the talented Tiger offense, led by middle blocker Susan Rollman and setter Miranda Wisehart, proved too powerful in taking a 25-23, 25-22, 25-12 win at Walz Arena on Tuesday night.

Concordia (3-7, 0-2 GPAC) seemed to feed off a great Bulldog crowd in the early going of its home opener. The Bulldogs narrowly lost the first two sets and even out-hit Doane (14-4, 1-1 GPAC) in the first game, .282-.275. When in system, the Concordia attack gave the Tigers trouble.

“When (Amanda Kisker or Kim Miller) got blocked, it was generally when we were out of system,” Bulldog head coach Scott Mattera said. “And Doane could just set up a big double block and sit there on them. You notice when we were in system and could hold something with our middle hitters, our hitting percentage was through the roof. If we can stay in system, we’re going to be a very dangerous team.”

Unfortunately for Concordia, Doane remained in system often as Wisehart routinely executed beautifully in setting up her middles Rollman and Emily Max. Wisehart dished 33 assists and the lethal combo of Rollman and Axmann hit .579 and .545, respectively, with 19 combined kills.

The Bulldogs were led once again by the senior outside hitter Kisker, who tallied 12 kills. Miller followed with eight kills. Sophomore setter Jami Nekoliczak paced the squad with 18 assists.

While the third and final set was dominated by the Tigers, who hit .435 in game No. 3, Mattera was pleased with how his team pushed another top-notch foe.

“I was actually really happy with the first two games,” Mattera said. “We had a lot of opportunities to win. We did not take advantage of those opportunities, but showed tonight that when we play our system, it works against even one of the best teams in the country.”

The Bulldogs have now played No. 12 Oklahoma Baptist, No. 13 Grand View (Iowa), No. 14 Doane, No. 19 Bellevue and No. 22 Midland in a difficult early-season schedule that saw their first nine matches played outside of Seward.

Mattera, coaching his first career match within the friendly confines of Walz Arena, enjoyed the enthusiasm of the crowd and has his sights set on taking the game day atmosphere to an even higher level.

“This was fantastic. I thought the turnout was great,” Mattera said. “We’ve got to train our crowd to expect to win as much as we do. We’ve got to get our student section up, and we’re training them to cheer and we’re recruiting some of those loud, crazy college students to come in and be our cheerleaders. We’ll get this place rocking and it will be a tough place to play real soon.”

Concordia will get back on the court on Friday when it plays Northwestern in Orange City, Iowa, at 7:30 p.m. The Bulldogs’ next home match is Saturday, Sept. 22 when Dakota Wesleyan comes to town.

Mattera's Bulldogs hang tough in GPAC road action

14 SEP 2012

ORANGE CITY, Iowa – There’s nothing easy about life on the road in the Great Plains Athletic Conference. The Bulldogs have lost six-straight sets to begin GPAC play away from Seward after dropping a 25-23, 25-23, 25-23 decision to Northwestern in Orange City, Iowa, on Friday night.

Concordia, now 3-8 overall and 0-3 in the GPAC, played Friday in its seventh match of the season against teams either ranked or receiving votes in the NAIA coaches’ poll. The Red Raiders (12-3, 2-0 GPAC), placed just outside the Top 25 in the latest rankings, got 10 kills in 24 attempts by Kaitlin Floerchinger and did just enough in each game to get by a Bulldog squad that is becoming more comfortable with their new style of play.

“We played fantastically well,” head coach Scott Mattera said. “I would call this the most complete match that we’ve played this season.”

Concordia competed evenly with Northwestern thanks to great play from its setters in sophomores Kayla James (14 assists) and Jami Nekoliczak (nine assists). The duo kept the Red Raider defense off balance by distributing the ball all over the court.

“Jami and Kayla played amazingly well,” Mattera said. “They spread the offense around. They really stepped it up tonight. The reason nobody had 10 kills was that we spread the ball around so well.”

Throw out the final set in Tuesday’s home opener in which Concordia was dominated 25-12 by No. 14 Doane, and the Bulldogs have lost five sets by an average of 2.2 points in their last two matches.

“We’re starting to become a more disciplined team. We’re playing with more synergy,” Mattera said. “We’re close to getting over that hump. We’ll get there.”

Concordia got eight kills apiece from sophomore Amanda Abbott and freshman Kelsey Dinkel. Senior outside hitter Amanda Kisker added seven kills, while sophomore defensive specialist Carli Smith, who came into play leading the GPAC with 4.9 digs/set, piled up nine more digs on Friday.

The Bulldogs get right back to action on Saturday at 1 p.m. when they play Dakota State University in Madison, S.D. The Trojans are 5-7 on the season after falling 20-25, 19-25, 25-17, 16-25 to Briar Cliff in their most recent match. Concordia returns home Sept. 22 when it welcomes Dakota Wesleyan into Walz Arena.

Spikers upended in non-conference road duel

15 SEP 2012

By Taylor Mueller, Sports Information Assistant

MADISON, S.D. - The Bulldog volleyball team finished their two-match weekend road trip with a straight-set loss to Dakota State University in Madison, S.D., falling to 3-9 overall on the season.

The team fell just short in the first two games, losing 26-24, 25-23 before closing out with a 25-16 defeat. Concordia lost five-consecutive sets by two points going back to Friday’s loss at Northwestern before the Trojans won decisively in game No. 3 on Saturday.

Head coach Scott Mattera was not pleased with the final result, and stressed the importance of consistently playing with focus and discipline.

“Everything we do is based on focus and trust and we did not display those characteristics today,” Mattera said. “We'll get back in the gym on Monday and get after it. Getting to the top wouldn’t feel so good if the journey wasn't difficult.”

Performing well for Concordia was sophomore Mariah Schamp with eight kills. Senior Amanda Kisker chipped in with eight kills of her own. Defensively, sophomore Carli Smith contributed with 13 digs, while Kisker added eight more of her own.

The Bulldogs will travel to Lincoln, Neb., on Sept. 18 to take on Nebraska Wesleyan in their next road test before returning to Seward on Sept. 22 to play Dakota Wesleyan.

Kisker powers Bulldogs to first GPAC victory

18 SEP 2012

LINCOLN, Neb. – Head coach Scott Mattera’s volleyball squad grew tired of all the close-set losses to begin the season. The Bulldogs entered Tuesday’s action with defeats in eight-straight sets decided by two points. Enough was enough. Concordia finally snapped that string by taking both games two and four by two points each on the way to a 25-20, 27-25, 15-25, 26-24 victory at Nebraska Wesleyan.

Concordia (4-9, 1-3 GPAC) senior outside hitter Amanda Kisker enjoyed perhaps her best match of the season, going for 19 kills in 40 attempts. She also made big plays on the defensive end as she added 13 digs in leading the Bulldogs to their first league win.

“Amanda had a huge match statistically, but I was even more proud of her for an adjustment she made in the fourth game,” Mattera said. “She made the commitment to stick to discipline and really made some great momentum plays defensively that gave us a ton of energy. She showed what a leader does.”

Kisker was supported by standout performances from several teammates. Sophomore Mariah Schamp piled up nine kills and 3.5 blocks and sophomore Amanda Abbott looked comfortable on the right side with 11 kills. Meanwhile, sophomore Jami Nekoliczak had 27 assists and sophomore Carli Smith (16 digs) played a fantastic match at libero both defensively and in serve receive.

“There were so many girls that stepped up today that I can't possibly name them all,” Mattera said. “I'm just so proud of them for staying the course and believing in themselves and what we are building as a team.”

The Prairie Wolves (5-5, 0-2 GPAC) were paced by the 16 kills from Katelyn Walsh and 48 assists from Alex Springman. They were coming off victories in two of their previous three matches.

Concordia out-hit Nebraska Wesleyan .229 to .217 for the match. The Prairie Wolves heated up to .591 in game No. 3, but the Bulldogs responded with a tight win in the deciding fourth set.

Concordia will host Dakota Wesleyan (3-11, 0-1 GPAC) on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. in the team’s second home contest of 2012. An alumni match will be held immediately after.

Abbott leads come-from-behind victory

22 SEP 2012

By Taylor Mueller, Sports Information Assistant

SEWARD, Neb. – Concordia rallied to win an exciting match in a come-from-behind effort to defeat Dakota Wesleyan in five games, improving its record to 5-9 on the season and 2-3 in conference play.

After winning the first game 25-17, the Bulldogs dropped the next two games, 25-20 and 26-24. Momentum shifted in the crucial fourth game, however, as the Bulldogs took control with a 25-23 victory, and finished the night beating the Tigers 15-9.

Leading the attack for the Bulldogs was sophomore Amanda Abbott with 17 kills and senior Amanda Kisker with 16 kills. Sophomore Kayla James chipped in with 24 assists while sophomore Jami Nekoliczak added 21 assists.

“Ammanda Abbott had a huge match for us today,” head coach Scott Mattera said. “She was solid all the way through. She was reliable.”

Abbott talked about her performance but explained that much of the credit goes out to her teammates as well.

“I think I did really well, but I had a lot of support from my teammates,” Abbott said. “Everybody worked really hard to win those games.”

The Bulldogs looked like a different team in the final two games, and Abbott explained the team’s mentality heading into the final two sets and the difference in the team that has led to their recent success.

“We’ve been working really hard in practice,” Abbott said. “We have a lot of energy on the court. We’ve been working really hard to improve, and we have. I think it shows (because) we’re winning. We knew we were going to win, we knew we were the better team. By working really hard and doing what we do best, we won that game.”

Defensively, the Bulldogs were led by sophomore Carli Smith who contributed 27 digs, and Kisker with 13 digs.

Mattera explained that while it was not the most impressive performance that the Bulldogs put on, he was proud of their effort and resiliency.

“It wasn’t always pretty,” Mattera said. “The message we gave to them in the locker room was it resembled what we did in practice all week. We figured out how to finish, we figured out how to win a game even though we’re not performing perfectly. Today we were sloppy but we found a way to pull it out and I’m really proud of them for it.”  

The Bulldogs will travel to Hastings for their next match to take on the Broncos on Sept. 26.  

“We play well against good competition,” Abbott said. “We can really compete. If we stay up and start strong, we can definitely win.”

Mattera is ready and confident for the upcoming schedule and is hopeful for what his team can do with its remaining schedule.

“Moving forward, those games we were loosing by two to three points, maybe we’ll find a way to win those games,” Mattera said. “I have all the confidence in the world we’re going to be a tough team to play coming down the stretch.”

No. 7 Hastings too much for Bulldogs

26 SEP 2012

HASTINGS, Neb. – Kendra Schwein and her host Broncos showed why they were the No. 7 team in the NAIA on Wednesday night. Hastings (14-3, 4-0 GPAC) needed just three sets to take care of Concordia, 25-18, 25-15, 25-16, behind 18 kills and a .417 hitting percentage from Schwein.

The Bulldogs (5-10, 2-4 GPAC) got 15 assists from sophomore setter Jami Nekoliczak in a match that was played tighter than the final score would indicate. Senior outside hitter Amanda Kisker again led the team in kills, going for eight more on Wednesday in 23 attempts. Sophomore middle block Mariah Schamp added two service aces.

Sophomore right side Amanda Abbott and freshman Kelsey Dinkel followed Kisker with five kills apiece.

On the night, Hastings out-hit Concordia .373 to .104. The sizzling Broncos played nearly flawless in posting an attack percentage of .367 or better in each of the three games. The Bulldogs played best in set No. 1 with a .286 percentage.

Concordia is back on the road on Saturday, traveling to Sioux City to take on Morningside (10-8, 1-4 GPAC) at 3 p.m.

Bulldogs come up short in matchup with defending GPAC champs

29 SEP 2012

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – Great efforts from sophomore right side Amanda Abbott and sophomore defensive specialist Carli Smith allowed Concordia (5-11, 2-5 GPAC) to hang with defending GPAC champion Morningside (11-8, 2-4 GPAC) on Saturday in Sioux City. The Bulldogs pulled out a tight game two to even the match at one apiece, but the host Mustangs responded and took a 25-19, 23-25, 25-15, 25-16 decision.

“After some early adjustments we played fantastically well defensively,” Concordia head coach Scott Mattera said. “The problem was that we were on defense entirely too much. I certainly can't fault the effort, we just need to execute the skills of the game more consistently.”

Abbott again had an efficient day, going for 11 kills on only 23 attempts for a .423 hitting percentage. Smith put forth a great performance defensively with 20 digs and better than 90 percent efficiency on 45 serve receive attempts.

“Carli was a terror in the back, mixing great discipline with hustle,” Mattera said.

Morningside got standout efforts from freshman outside hitter Gabi French and junior outside hitter Maggie Vondrak. The two attackers gave the Bulldogs fits all afternoon as French went for 11 kills and a .455 attack percentage and Vondrak collected a match-high 14 kills on a .444 hitting percentage. Senior Briana Schaeuble dominated in the middle with eight block assists for the Mustangs.

Concordia was led in kills by senior outside hitter Amanda Kisker and freshman outside hitter Kelsey Dinkel. Each of the two outsides put down 12 kills on the day. Meanwhile, sophomore setters Jami Nekoliczak and Kayla James recorded 20 and 15 assists, respectively.

The Bulldogs were out hit .295 to .101 on the afternoon. Concordia posted its best hitting percentage in set No. 2 at .273.

The Bulldogs will play at in-state York College on Tuesday before returning to GPAC action on Friday and Saturday. Concordia will host both weekend matches as it takes on Briar Cliff at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and then challenges Mount Marty at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Bulldogs mount 'comeback for record books'

03 OCT 2012

YORK, Neb. – Trailing 17-9 in the third set, the Bulldogs were on the brink of defeat after dropping the first two sets. However, Concordia put together a stunning comeback on the road to beat non-conference foe York College, 23-25, 19-25, 25-21, 25-15, 15-12, on Tuesday night.

“Somehow we pulled out of our hole,” head coach Scott Mattera said. “The changes we made were subtle but it was enough to shift the energy and focus level. I think the biggest difference was that we quit trying to score 25 points all at once and started to realize that you win games one point at a time and you win points by concentrating on each individual touch over and over.”

York (6-14, 1-4 Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference), led by head coach Meredith Rosenbaum, played its system efficiently through the first two-and-a-half sets. The Panthers mystified the Bulldogs with some unfamiliar looks as Concordia (6-11, 2-5 GPAC) struggled with 21 hitting errors in the first two games.

The ominous start to Tuesday’s affair reminded Mattera of his team’s straight-sets loss at Dakota State back on Sept. 15. Unlike that match, the Bulldogs responded in a big way to claim victory over York.

“Obviously we aren't thrilled with how we played for two-and-a-half games, but we are very happy with the progress of our team mentality,” Mattera said. “This match was Dakota state all over again except this time we made changes and fought back rather than give in and let it go. It's a comeback for the record books and something we can point to as we build our mentality.”

Concordia now returns home for three-straight GPAC contests, including two this weekend. The Bulldogs play Briar Cliff (11-9, 3-4 GPAC) on Friday at 7:30 p.m. before hosting Mount Marty (4-13, 1-5 GPAC) on Saturday at 3 p.m.

Smith, Walz crowd power five-set win

05 OCT 2012

SEWARD, Neb. – A resilient bunch of Bulldogs toyed with the emotions of an energetic crowd before rallying to defeat visiting Briar Cliff (11-10, 3-5 GPAC) on Friday night at Walz Arena. Concordia fell behind two-sets-to-one and fended off five Charger match-point situations in the final set to come away with a 25-21, 22-25, 21-25, 25-21, 20-18 thriller.

Senior outside hitter Amanda Kisker, who posted a match-high 21 kills, came up big down the stretch. She put away points 15, 16 and 17 in the deciding set, keeping Concordia (7-11, 3-5 GPAC) alive in a chaotic final push. With the Bulldog faithful ready to erupt, freshman Katie Peterson’s block of Monica Boeding’s attack attempt and a subsequent attack error sent Concordia to a second-straight five-set victory.

“We stayed consistent all night,” head coach Scott Mattera said. “Our crowd stepped up its game and it was huge for us, and man did we make plays down the stretch. I am so proud of them tonight.”

Kisker teamed with sophomore right side Amanda Abbott (15 kills in 40 attempts) in connecting on critical swings with the match on the line. Kisker and Abbott combined for the team’s final four kills of the contest despite the opposition being well aware of their presences on the court.

“Kisker and Abbott were just machines down the stretch,” Mattera said. “We fought off four or five match points and it wasn’t on their mistakes. It was on our kills. I was really proud of us for stepping up and wanting the ball in crunch time. Everyone in the gym knew where the ball was going. It was no secret and they still got it done.”

Concordia sophomore Carli Smith turned in a monster effort defensively. The Temecula, Calif., native piled up far-and-away a match-high 37 digs with her family looking on in the bleachers. Smith’s ranginess stifled many Charger attacks and helped limit Briar Cliff to a .146 hitting percentage on the night.

“I play for the team, and I know that defense runs the game,” Smith said. “It pumps everyone up when you get that great dig or you get that great play. I knew I needed to step it up for this game, and I think we all did.”

After taking the first set, the Bulldogs appeared well on their way to gaining a 2-0 advantage when a Charger attack error pushed the Concordia lead to 18-12 in the second set. But Briar Cliff would run off the next five points and 13 of the next 17 to even the match at 1-1. The Chargers went on to win the third set before giving way to Concordia in the fourth game to necessitate the thrilling fifth set.

The Chargers entered play with wins in two of their past three matches, including a victory over defending GPAC champion Morningside on Sept. 26. Briar Cliff also took a game from No. 7 Hastings in a Sept. 29 loss.

The Chargers had four players with double-figures in kills, including Kally Iedema (16), Marissa Van Driel (14), Boeding (10) and Breanna Nogelmeier (10).

The Bulldogs remain at home for their next two contests. Mount Marty (4-14, 1-6 GPAC) visits Seward on Saturday with first serve at 3 p.m. Then on Wednesday, No. 21 Midland (13-7, 5-2 GPAC) comes to town for a 7:30 p.m. match. Free ice cream will be provided for students at Wednesday’s match in hopes of an even better atmosphere.

"The crowd was amazing," Smith said. "The crowd just needs to keep coming to our games, keeping being loud and energetic because we feed off them completely. The crowd was awesome, and I thank everyone that came out." 

Kisker's near flawless performance ignites sweep of Mount Marty

06 OCT 2012

SEWARD, Neb. – Senior outside hitter Amanda Kisker’s powerful right arm was on full display as Concordia cruised to a 25-17, 25-21, 25-18 victory over Mount Marty (4-14, 1-6 GPAC) on Saturday inside Walz Arena. Coming off an emotional five-set win over Briar Cliff the night before, the Bulldogs played with the same passion in making quick work of the Lancers.

“That’s exactly what I would describe this as – taking care of business,” head coach Scott Mattera said. “It was a workmanlike performance. That was exactly what we were looking for today. Coming off a huge win last night, we didn’t know what we were going to get when we took the court. We took the court really well in game one, a little lull in game two, figured it out though and stayed consistent in three.”

Kisker stole the show with her incredible performance on the attack. The Lincoln, Neb., native boosted her career kills total to 972 with 20 more on Saturday. She also hit an eye-popping .654, a number that shocked even Kisker, in Concordia’s first three-set win of the season.

“We keep saying that in the past we’ve come so close with all these other teams and we just really needed that big win to push us over,” Kisker said. “That was definitely last night, going to five with Briar Cliff. Today coming in we knew we had to be focused. We just kept coming close so many times, that once we got it – we totally believed in ourselves. We just needed to prove it.”

The Bulldogs showed no signs of tired legs from the grind of Friday’s victory. Concordia (8-11, 4-5 GPAC) came out sizzling in the first set, hitting .353, led by the seven kills from Kisker, who only got stronger the rest of the way. Freshman Kelsey Dinkel and sophomore Amanda Abbott also added four kills in the opening game to set the tone for the rest of the match.

The performance of Kisker left Mattera gushing afterwards.

“The numbers were obviously really impressive,” Mattera said. “But this was probably my favorite match of hers, just because of the way she led. She’s been learning how to lead all year and this was a big match for that because of what happened last night.

“Any time we needed a kill, she was just ‘give me the ball, I’ll get it done.’ That’s what we need out of her attitude-wise.”

Mount Marty provided more resistance in a closely-contested second set, but was too careless with its touches to take even a game from the Bulldogs. The Lancers lofted several overpasses that barely cleared the net and gave easy kill opportunities for freshman Katie Peterson and sophomore Mariah Schamp.

Meanwhile, sophomore defensive specialist Carli Smith continued her fine work defensively with 17 digs. Smith came into the contest tied for the conference lead with 4.9 digs per set.

The Bulldogs won all three matches over the past week, including a five-set win over York College on Tuesday. Concordia has won two straight in GPAC play and has claimed victory in four of its last six league matches.

The Bulldogs get another shot at No. 21 Midland on Wednesday when the Warriors come to Seward. Midland swept away Concordia in three sets on Sept. 5.

Smith tabbed GPAC Defensive POW

09 OCT 2012

Concordia sophomore defensive specialist Carli Smith has been selected as the GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Volleyball Defensive Player of the Week, the league announced Tuesday.

“As libero she is the quarterback of the defense,” head volleyball coach Scott Mattera said. “It took her a little while to grasp what we were asking her to do but she is really finding the balance of playing free and loose but staying within and believing in the system.

“She's been so open to feedback and has really made such a huge effort to improve both physically and mentally, which is really mature and impressive for a player who has had success in the past but is being asked to change. I couldn't be more proud of her.”

Smith, who hails from Temecula, Calif., played a key role in the Bulldogs’ three victories last week. She compiled 78 digs over the three matches, including a season high 37 in the team’s five-set win over Briar Cliff on Oct. 5. She also posted a serve receive percentage of 97.7 during the week.

Smith has 342 total digs in 70 sets played this season for an average of 4.9 digs per set, which is tied for first in the GPAC. She has posted 20 or more digs in eight of the Bulldogs’ 19 matches and 30 or more on two occasions. Her 342 digs are just eight shy of her season total from her freshman campaign. In addition, she has tallied 12 service aces this season.

She is the first member of the volleyball team to earn weekly GPAC honors in 2012.

Bulldogs fall despite strong defensive effort

10 OCT 2012

SEWARD, Neb. – Although they dropped a three-set decision to No. 23 Midland at home on Wednesday, the Bulldogs showed vast improvement compared to the defeat they suffered at Midland back on Sept. 5. Concordia hung tight with the visiting Warriors (14-8, 5-3 GPAC) in all three sets and had set-point opportunities on four-straight serves in game No. 1 before ultimately conceding the set and the match, 26-24, 25-22, 25-22.

“We knew that that wasn’t us that showed up that day,” Concordia head coach Scott Mattera said of the previous meeting with Midland. “And they were on fire. Give them a ton of credit. Today we showed a lot more of who we are.

“We held a team like that to .147 hitting. I couldn’t be happier with our defense.”

That defense helped the Bulldogs (8-12, 4-6 GPAC) get off to a promising start in the first set as an Amanda Kisker kill and a Midland attack error put Concordia at set point leading 24-21. But the Warriors rattled off the next five points finishing on a Becca Gradoville service ace to seize the momentum that would carry them to victory.

“Game one and three we had leads all the way into the 20s, and it just didn’t happen tonight,” Mattera said. “Our girls made a lot of plays tonight, and that’s the way the ball bounces sometimes. I’ve got to be proud of the way they’ve improved over these six weeks since the first time against Midland. I’m excited where we’re headed over the next couple of weeks.”

Concordia had leads of as many as four points in each set and battled evenly with the Warriors throughout the deciding set that saw 28 ties. Midland ended the match with three-consecutive points, the final coming on a Bulldog attack error, to snap a two-match skid. For Concordia, the loss halted a three-match win streak.

Defensively, Carli Smith, named GPAC Defensive Player of the Week on Tuesday, continued her stellar play with 21 more digs on Wednesday in limiting the Warrior attack to nearly 60 percentage points below its season average in hitting percentage.

Midland got an efficient performance from outside hitter Elaine Kramer, who led the team with 11 kills on 20 swings. Setter Megan Farley posted a match high 33 assists.

Kisker, a senior outside hitter, went for a match-high 15 kills after racking up 56 combined kills last week. She sits at 987 kills in her career. Several of those kills over the past two seasons have been set up by sophomore setter Jami Nekoliczak, who notched 16 assists in the match.

“Midland is the No. 1 blocking team in our conference,” Nekoliczak said. “So it was really tough. We wanted to mix up our hitting situations, but it ended up well. I feel like we did a really good job of hitting shots. We work a lot on that in practice, and Amanda Kisker just kind of took control.”

Wednesday’s match marked the seventh this season versus a nationally-ranked opponent. Four of those contests have come against GPAC foes.

The Bulldogs hit the road on Saturday for a 3 p.m. match at Dakota Wesleyan. The two teams met back on Sept. 22 when Concordia came back to win at home in five sets, 25-17, 20-25, 24-26, 25-23, 15-9.

Rematch goes to Dakota Wesleyan

13 OCT 2012

MITCHELL, S.D. – After taking a five-set match over Dakota Wesleyan on Sept. 22 at Walz Arena, the Bulldogs struggled against a hot Tiger team on Saturday. Powered by the 17 kills of Rachel Tinklenberg, Dakota Wesleyan defeated visiting Concordia 25-20, 25-16, 13-25, 26-24.

“We came out flat against an on fire opponent and paid the price,” Bulldog head coach Scott Mattera said. “Dakota Wesleyan played very well. We've got do a better job of making sure we take the floor with passion and focus every time out. We didn't do that today and I take responsibility for it.”

Concordia, now 8-13 overall and 4-7 in GPAC play, had won four of six league matches before falling twice this week, including Wednesday’s loss to No. 23 Midland at home. On the other hand, Dakota Wesleyan (5-19, 1-6 GPAC) made the Bulldogs its first conference victim of the season.

Freshman Kelsey Dinkel enjoyed what Mattera called her best match of the season on Saturday. Dinkel tallied a team-high 11 kills on 24 attempts. Senior outside hitter Amanda Kisker posted 10 kills, giving her 997 for her career, which includes three seasons at Concordia and one at Dana College.

Bulldog sophomore defensive specialist Carli Smith, who came into play leading the GPAC with 5.0 digs per set, racked up 19 more digs in the loss. Sophomore setters Jami Nekoliczak and Kayla James dished out 21 and 17 assists, respectively, for an attack that hit .192 for the match.

Concordia heated up with a big performance in the third set, hitting .407 on the way to a lopsided 25-13 decision to stay alive after dropping the first two sets. However, the Bulldogs were unable to sustain that success, slumping to a .152 performance on the attack in the fourth set.

The Tigers picked up their first victory since a Sept. 26 win over Dakota State and won for just the second time in its last 14 matches.

Concordia returns home on Tuesday when Nebraska Wesleyan (10-10, 4-4 GPAC) visits Seward for a 7:30 p.m. match. The Bulldogs topped the Prairie Wolves on the road in four sets on Sept. 18.

Kisker eclipses 1,000 career kills in GPAC defeat 

16 OCT 2012

SEWARD, Neb. – Amanda Kisker achieved an impressive milestone on Tuesday night as the Bulldogs fell 25-14, 22-25, 19-25, 25-19, 15-13 to visiting Nebraska Wesleyan. The senior outside hitter from Lincoln, Neb., put down the 1,000th kill of her outstanding career with her third kill of the match.

“Nothing wrong with 1,000 career kills – that’s for sure,” Bulldog head coach Scott Mattera said. “People talk about 1,000 points in basketball or 1,000 kills in volleyball. Obviously that’s 250 a year, which is a huge number.

“She’s been a horse. We just keep going to her and going to her and she just keeps delivering.”

Concordia students held up signs that commemorated the kill and cheered loudly as the senior used her powerful right-handed swing to knock yet another point to the floor. Kisker, who simply wanted to continue on with the match, smiled politely in appreciation.

“It took a lot of teamwork, and I honestly didn’t even know it was coming,” Kisker said. “I didn’t really think much of it. They made signs, so that was a neat moment. It’s cool, but it’s a team sport.”

Unfortunately, Kisker’s 1,000th kill was about the only thing that went right in the first set when the Prairie Wolves outhit the Bulldogs .355-.069. Nebraska Wesleyan (11-10, 5-4 GPAC) put its athleticism on display in that first set as outside hitter Katelyn Walsh connected on six kills in seven attempts.

“The first set was frankly pretty ugly,” Mattera said. “I don’t know if they came out distracted or what. All around it was just not solid, but I’m really happy with how we came back after that. Games two and three were very, very good. We really mixed it up well offensively and got some stuff going.”

The Bulldogs (8-14, 4-8 GPAC) heated up just like Kisker, who put down five kills apiece in the second and third sets and a match-high 23 on the night. After topping Nebraska Wesleyan on the road on Sept. 18, Concordia positioned itself for a season sweep with a 2-1 lead after three sets.

That’s when Prairie Wolf outside hitter Cody Long came through with six of her 14 kills on the night, allowing Nebraska Wesleyan to force a fifth set. Walsh and company then used a balanced attack – seven different players recorded kills in the deciding game – to sneak out of Walz Arena with a tough road victory.

Sophomores Mariah Schamp and Amanda Abbott joined Kisker in double-figures in kills with 12 and 10, respectively. Schamp and Kisker were also active at the net defensively, combining for four block solos and four block assists as Concordia totaled 10 total team blocks.

Sophomore defensive specialist Carli Smith led all players with 26 digs. She entered Tuesday’s match leading the GPAC with 5.0 digs per set.

The Prairie Wolves, who defeated then No. 14 Doane in four sets on Oct. 2, had four players with 11 or more kills: Walsh (19), Cicely Batie (14), Long (14) and Karny Kuehl (11).

“We play well against good competition,” Mattera said. “Nebraska Wesleyan just knocked off Doane and they just knocked off Northwestern in three straight. So for us to push them 15-13 and honestly have every chance to win in that fifth game tells where we’re at compared to the rest of the league.”

Concordia now breaks away from conference play for a weekend tournament at Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa. The Bulldogs will play Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) (6 p.m.) and Clarke (Iowa) (8 p.m.) on Friday before turning around to challenge Purdue North Central (Ind.) (10 a.m.) and Judson (Ill) (12 p.m.) on Saturday in a grueling stretch that involves four matches in less than a 24-hour period.

Bulldogs fall twice on day one of Clarke Tournament

19 OCT 2012

DUBUQUE, Iowa – The Bulldogs broke away from GPAC action Friday to play at the Clarke University Tournament in Dubuque, Iowa, where Concordia fell 25-19, 25-21, 25-21 to Cardinal Stritch and then 25-16, 25-16, 25-20 to Clarke to close the evening. The Bulldogs’ two Friday opponents brought a combined record of 40-13 into the tournament.

“We came up against two teams on fire tonight,” Concordia head coach Scott Mattera said.

Cardinal Stritch entered the day at 19-6 overall and in second place in the North Division of the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference. The Wolves of Milwaukee, Wis., overcame 18 digs from Concordia sophomore Carli Smith, 11 kills from senior Amanda Kisker and 21 assists dished out by Kayla James in a near flawless performance.

“They just didn't make any mistakes,” Matter said of Cardinal Strich. “Other than our blocks they might have had three or four errors the entire match. Even the refs were joking about how we couldn't catch a break. That's part of sports though and we need to be able to take a team’s best shot and still overcome.”

Tournament host Clarke began the day at 21-7 overall with a third-place standing in the Midwest Collegiate Conference. The Bulldogs (8-16, 4-8 GPAC) could not stop the hot-hitting Crusaders who won their seventh match in a row with a powerful display at the net.

“They were in system the entire match and we were not,” Mattera said. “They were fantastic on the block and passed nails all night. I can't fault the effort of our girls, Clarke just played better volleyball than we did.”

Kisker again led Concordia in kills with eight more in the night cap. Sophomore Mariah Schamp added six kills.

This weekend’s tournament is the third and final of the season for Concordia, which will have only four regular-season matches remaining after Saturday.

The Bulldogs have lost five straight on the heels of a three-match win streak from Oct. 2-6 when they defeated York, Briar Cliff and Mount Marty.

Concordia will continue play at the Clarke Tournament on Saturday with two additional matches. It begins the day at 10 a.m. when it challenges Purdue North Central (Ind.) prior to a 12 p.m. match versus Judson (Ill.) to finish off the weekend event. Purdue North Central entered the tournament with an overall mark of 6-21, while Judson began the weekend at 15-12.

Balanced attack allows Bulldogs to rebound in Dubuque

20 OCT 2012

DUBUQUE, Iowa – After being handed two straight-set losses on Friday night, the Bulldogs rebounded to claim a pair of victories on Saturday, including a stamina-testing five-match victory over Judson (Ill.) to finish action at the weekend Clarke University Tournament.

Playing in its fourth match in roughly 18 hours, Concordia showed little fatigue in out-lasting Judson of the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference, 28-26, 15-25, 25-22, 12-25, 17-15. The Bulldogs had four players put down at least nine kills: Amanda Kisker (14), Amanda Abbott (13), Mariah Schamp (11), Kelsey Dinkel (9).

“We just beat a very good volleyball team and came back time and time again to do it,” head coach Scott Mattera said. “I'm so proud of how we played in pressure situations. We spread the offense really well. We are at our best when everyone is contributing like that.”

Sophomore setter Jami Nekoliczak dished out 28 assists and freshman Katie Peterson and Schamp totaled six block assists apiece in a great defensive effort at the net.

In the first match of the day, Concordia won going away, 25-19, 25-11, 25-12, in another contest against a Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference foe in Purdue North Central (Ind.). Dinkel continued her elevated play of late with 10 kills in only 15 swings, while sophomore defensive specialist Carli Smith posted three of the Bulldogs’ nine service aces.

“We really did what we needed to do against a young program, just came out and played clean volleyball and had fun doing it,” Mattera said.

Senior right side Kim Miller returned to the court this weekend after being out due to injury since the Sept. 18 win at Nebraska Wesleyan. Miller’s athleticism provides a big boost at the net both offensively and defensively.

With Saturday’s two triumphs, Concordia pushed its mark to 4-6 in neutral court matches against non-conference opponents. The Bulldogs also played out-of-conference contests at tournaments in Bellevue, Neb., and Hastings, Neb., in the season’s opening month.

Concordia is now 4-1 in matches decided in five sets.

The Bulldogs return to GPAC action on Wednesday when they travel to Crete, Neb., to play at No. 17 Doane at 7:30 p.m. The Tigers defeated Concordia in straight sets on Sept. 11 in Seward.

Concordia falls short in upset bid

24 OCT 2012

CRETE, Neb. – Once again head coach Scott Mattera’s Bulldogs showed they could compete with one of the nation’s elite. However, No. 19 Doane’s attack proved too powerful in the fifth set as Concordia fell 25-23, 25-18, 21-25, 22-25, 15-4 on Wednesday to its rival and neighbor to the south.

"After figuring out our scheme in real time, we really did a great job of taking away what they wanted to do," Mattera said. "Some of the things we did tonight strategically are things we've never done before and I'm so proud of how the girls adapted on the fly."

Concordia gave the nationally-ranked Tigers more than they bargained for in the first four sets before running out of gas in the deciding game. The Bulldogs showed no fear in a hostile environment in digging out of an 0-2 hole to force a fifth set. That’s when Doane caught fire as the Tigers hammered eight kills on nine swings to move to 22-8 overall and 9-4 in the GPAC.

While the Bulldogs (10-17, 4-9 GPAC) lost the first set, they fought off six-straight set points before finally giving way. In doing so, Concordia foreshadowed what a tough night host Doane would be in for. The Bulldogs would use a strong defensive effort to roar back in the third and fourth sets when the Tigers hit .118 and .242, respectively.

"I can't pick any one or two players to highlight because it was a true team effort," Mattera said. "Everyone made mistakes and everyone made plays tonight.

"If you're forcing me to mention one it would probably be Mariah Schamp (six kills, three block assists). They have two awesome middles and Schampy more than held her own."

Concordia senior outside hitter Amanda Kisker went for a match high 21 kills on the night, marking her fourth contest this season with 20 or more kills. The Lincoln native also topped both teams with 15 digs.

Sophomore right side Amanda Abbott added 10 kills for the Bulldogs, while sophomore setter Jami Nekoliczak dished out a team high 32 assists.

As they have throughout this season, the Tigers relied heavily on Susan Rollman, one of the top players in the GPAC. Rollman had 19 kills thanks to a sparkling .378 hitting percentage and was active at the net defensively with six block assists and one solo block. She was almost always set up by Miranda Wisehart, who collected 54 assists.

Wednesday’s battle marked the eighth time this season Concordia has faced a top 25 opponent. The Bulldogs are likely to play one more nationally-ranked foe with No. 6 Hastings looming on Nov. 1.

Concordia is now 4-2 in matches decided in five sets. The only losses have come to Doane and Nebraska Wesleyan.

The Bulldogs hit the road again on Saturday when they travel to Sioux Center, Iowa, to take on Dordt (21-8, 8-4 GPAC) at 3 p.m. The Defenders were listed in the “others receiving votes” category in the latest coaches’ poll. Sitting in a tie for eighth place in the conference standings, Concordia may have to win two of its final three regular-season matches to safely assume a berth in the GPAC Championships.

Bulldogs overpowered by Defenders

27 OCT 2012

SIOUX CENTER, Iowa – The Bulldogs struggled to a 25-13, 25-16, 25-14 loss to Dordt in Sioux Center, Iowa, on Saturday. The Defenders, who received votes in the latest coaches’ poll, dominated with a .284 to .012 advantage in hitting percentage as Dordt (22-8, 11-2 GPAC) remained alone in second place in the conference.

“When you don’t bring your ‘A’ game against a team that talented, the scores are going to look like that,” Bulldog head coach Scott Mattera said. “Dordt has so much size and athleticism that if you aren’t constantly pressuring them, it can get ugly fast.”

The Defenders used a balanced attack, getting between five and seven kills from five different players, on the way to their fourth win in their last five matches. Katelyn Schuller led Dordt by putting down seven kills on 15 attempts.

Concordia (10-18, 4-10 GPAC) lost for the fifth straight time in GPAC play as it sputtered on the attack. The Bulldogs did not record a hitting percentage better than .115 in any of the three sets. Concordia’s top attacker, senior outside hitter Amanda Kisker, was limited to five kills on 15 attempts (including five errors).

Sophomore Mariah Schamp tied Schuller for a match high with seven kills as the Bulldogs put greater emphasis on feeding her in the middle. Sophomore setter Jami Nekoliczak posted 13 assists and sophomore defensive specialist Carli Smith added 10 digs.

Concordia will look to end its recent conference skid when it returns home on Thursday, Nov. 2 for a 7:30 p.m. match against first place and sixth-ranked Hastings (23-3, 13-0 GPAC). The Broncos ride an 11-match win streak into next week’s action.

At ninth place in the conference, the Bulldogs need may need to win at least of their final two regular-season contests to qualify for the eight-team GPAC Championships, which begin Nov. 6.

Bulldogs push No. 5 Hastings to four sets

01 NOV 2012

SEWARD, Neb. – Fifth-ranked Hastings, which entered Thursday with 15 of its 24 victories coming in three sets, got more of a tussle than it may have expected inside Walz Arena. The feisty Bulldogs (10-19, 4-11 GPAC) shook off a rough first set to take an adrenaline pumping second set. The Broncos (25-3, 15-0 GPAC) responded by showing why they are a top five team nationally in winning 25-16, 21-25, 25-14, 25-14.

“It was a heck of a game,” Concordia head coach Scott Mattera said. “If you were in this gym you would not say we are the eighth best team in our league, or you would look at our record and say, ‘wow, this league is ridiculous.’ We showed how good of a team we can be when everything’s clicking. We just made too many mistakes.”

Freshman Katie Peterson provided some excitement in the second set for a pink-clad Walz Arena crowd that lent its support to breast cancer awareness. Peterson, an Ord, Neb., native, got on a roll in the middle with blocks to finish off three out of four points to give Concordia a 25-21 triumph to knot the match at 1-1.

“Obviously it wasn’t all me,” Peterson said. “All the blocks I got revolved around the outsides setting it up right. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time.”

Peterson and fellow middles such as sophomore Mariah Schamp (9 kills, 2 total blocks) stepped up their games and showed an ability to pick up on the opponent’s tendencies. The duo was a big part of the improved play in set No. 2.

“Our middles did a really nice job,” Mattera said. “They started to read what was going on with (Hastings’) middles because they were mixing it up in front or in back of the setter. In the first game we weren’t doing a particularly good job of communicating that and switching responsibilities. They really picked that up.

“We had five blocks that game which is an enormous number.”

However, it was all Broncos from there. Hastings built and then maintained big leads in the final two sets to remain unbeaten in GPAC competition. Bronco star outside hitter Kendra Schwein went for a match high 17 kills and middle blocker Shayna Schacher was lethal on the interior with 14 kills (.636 hitting percentage) and three block solos.

Amanda Kisker posted double-figure kills for the 21st time this season, as she put down a team best 11 kills on the night to put her right at 1,100 for her career. Defensively, Carli Smith, second in the GPAC in digs per set, tied a match high with 15 digs.

For the match, Hastings outhit Concordia .298 to .143. The Bulldogs posted by far their best hitting percentage in the second set at .375. After notching an attack percentage of .196 in the second set, the Broncos heated up to .435 and .333, respectively, over the final two sets.

Concordia remains at home for the regular-season finale on Saturday at 6 p.m. with Northwestern (20-9, 9-6 GPAC) serving as the opponent. Kisker and fellow seniors Angela Bruhn, Kim Miller and Lindsea Vaudt will be recognized as part of Senior Day festivities.

The Bulldogs will see Hastings again in the quarterfinals of the GPAC Championships on Nov. 6. Concordia is locked into the No. 8 seed, while the Broncos have clinched the GPAC regular-season title.

Kisker-led Bulldogs drop regular-season finale

03 NOV 2012

By Taylor Mueller, Sports Information Assistant

SEWARD, Neb. – Senior outside hitter Amanda Kisker wrapped up her career at Walz Arena as the Bulldogs dropped a 25-21, 25-17, 25-22 decision to another quality opponent in Northwestern.

Kisker was honored on Saturday as part of Senior Day festivities along with Angela Bruhn, Kim Miller and Lindsea Vaudt.

“It’s my first year here and I am honored to have called myself their coach,” head coach Scott Mattera said of the seniors. “They won’t be taking the floor here at Walz anymore, but I know they’ll be supporting us every step of the way. That’s just who they are. I’m very proud of the foundation they’ve helped build. They’re going to be a part of what we do for the rest of this season and moving forward into the future.”

Kisker commented on her last night as a Bulldog on her home court, and the emotions that came with the season.

“There’s four seniors, and so a lot of the players tonight said, ‘We’re going to play for the upper classmen’ because we’re a really young team,” Kisker said. “We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores.

“We didn’t get the win but we definitely played hard. We’ll take that into practice on Monday and go get Hastings on Tuesday.”

Kisker finished her Bulldog career with a solid performance that included 10 kills and 12 digs, bringing her to 1,110 kills and 778 digs in her tremendous career. Sophomore Amanda Abbott added 11 kills of her own while sophomore Carli Smith had 17 digs. Sophomore Jami Nekoliczak chipped in with 11 assists and sophomore Kayla James had 16 assists.

Mattera explained the progress the team has made this year, and the strides they took to become a better team.

“We pushed some of the best teams in the country week in and week out,” Mattera said. “And we did it with heart, brains, believing in each other and playing the system. The improvement shown by our girls speaks to their character.”

Kisker added her own thoughts as she reflected on the season and what she will remember most about her career as a Bulldog.

“I think it’s not always about the wins and the losses,” Kisker said. “There were times that it hurt a little more than others and we would have liked to have gotten the win, but it’s more about the memories and it’s about the time you have growing up with the people that you love to play with.”

Northwestern was led by the eight kills and 16 assists of the versatile Kaitlin Floerchinger. The conference’s digs leader entering Saturday, Alexis Bart, put up 14 more digs in the victory.

Concordia, which was tabbed the GPAC’s No. 8 seed, will square off against top-seeded Hastings at 7:30 p.m. in the GPAC quarterfinals on Tuesday, Nov. 6. It will be the second time this season that the Bulldogs will take the court at Hastings. The Broncos have won both meetings in the series this season.

Volleyball closes season with loss at No. 5 Hastings

06 NOV 2012

HASTINGS, Neb. – Fifth-ranked Hastings looked like a well-oiled machine in dispatching of the Bulldogs 25-10, 25-14, 25-18 in a GPAC quarterfinal match on Tuesday night. After taking a game from the GPAC champion Broncos on Nov. 1, Concordia struggled at every turn against a focused Hastings attack on this particular night.

“They played like No. 5 in the country should play this time of year,” Bulldog head coach Scott Mattera said. “We were out of system trying shots most of the night rather than being in system putting pressure on them.”

The Broncos (27-3, 16-0 GPAC) blew the doors off Concordia (10-21, 4-12 GPAC) in the first set that saw Hastings out-hit the Bulldogs .583 to -.033. As they have all season, the Broncos counted on the stellar play of Kendra Schwein who led all players with 12 kills on 20 swings. Schwein’s prowess at the net allowed Hastings to enjoy a .458 to .024 advantage in hitting percentage on the night.

Sophomore Amanda Abbott paced Concordia with eight kills, while sophomore Kayla James dished out a team high 15 assists. Defensively, Carli Smith led the way with nine digs.

One of the many frustrations on this night was the lack of touches for sophomore middle blocker Mariah Schamp. She floored four kills on just nine attempts and added a block assist.

Meanwhile, Jessica Osterhaus put forth a dominant effort in the middle with eight kills on nine swings and seven total blocks.

Tuesday’s loss marked the end of the collegiate volleyball career of Amanda Kisker, who finishes with 1,111 kills and 784 digs in her four-year run that included three seasons at Concordia and one at Dana College. The Lincoln native entered the match at third in the GPAC with 3.4 kills per set.

Smith’s nine digs pushes her to 512 on the season. The Temecula, Calif., native has lived near the top of the conference digs leaderboard all season and currently ranks second in the league with 4.5 digs per set.

While the Bulldogs will say goodbye to Kisker and three other seniors, Mattera is confident in the positive direction of the program as he completes his first season at the helm. He’ll bring back a host of sophomores that saw heavy action in 2012 and welcome in the addition of a promising recruiting class.

Kisker, Smith garner all-GPAC recognition

14 NOV 2012

View complete GPAC volleyball all-conference teams

Senior outside hitter Amanda Kisker and sophomore defensive specialist Carli Smith have been named to the GPAC volleyball all-conference teams, the league announced Wednesday. Kisker, a first team all-GPAC selection, becomes the first Concordia all-conference first teamer since 2007 when both Katie Werner and Kelli Ziegler received such honors. Meanwhile, Smith is a second team choice.

Kisker, a Lincoln native who earned honorable mention status in 2011, ranked among the conference’s top attackers this season. She finished fourth in the GPAC with a career high 378 kills in 2012. She also ranked fourth with 3.3 kills per set while totaling 312 digs. She posted double digit kill numbers in 22 of the team’s 31 matches and put down 15 or more kills on 10 occasions. She completed her fantastic career with 1,111 kills and 784 digs in 131 matches.

Smith, who hails from Temecula, Calif., had a huge season as the Bulldogs’ libero. She piled up 512 total digs (the fourth most in the GPAC) for an average of 4.5 digs per set (third in the conference). Her 512 digs were 162 more than she tallied in her freshman season. In a four set win over Peru State on Sept. 7, Smith racked up a career best 32 digs. She also posted 17 service aces on the season.

Sophomores Amanda Abbott and Mariah Schamp also garnered honorable mention all-conference honors. Abbott and Schamp ranked second and third on the team with 289 and 189 kills, respectively. Schamp topped the Bulldogs with 77 total blocks.

Bulldogs earn seven volleyball Scholar-Athletes

30 NOV 2012

NAIA Release

Seven more Concordia student-athletes have been named 2012 Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes, the NAIA announced on Friday. Representing Concordia as volleyball honorees are seniors Angela Bruhn, Amanda Kisker, Kim Miller and Lindsea Vaudt and juniors Elise Ortmeier, Jennifer Smith and Morgan Stover. Concordia now has 26 Scholar-Athletes for the fall.

Bruhn, Kisker, Miller and Vaudt are all repeat selections having been named Scholar-Athletes in 2011.

A total of 408 NAIA volleyball student-athletes nationally received the honor. Hastings and Indiana Tech edged Concordia for the most volleyball award recipients with eight apiece.

In order to be nominated by an institution's head coach or sports information director, a student-athlete must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale and must have achieved a junior academic status to qualify for this honor.

Honorees for football will be released on Dec. 12, a day prior to the NAIA football national championship game.

Kisker, Smith tabbed OWH All-Nebraska Honorable Mention

26 DEC 2012

Omaha World-Herald All-Nebraska football team

Senior outside hitter Amanda Kisker and sophomore defensive specialist Carli Smith both earned All-Nebraska volleyball honorable mention honors, the Omaha World-Herald announced Tuesday. The potent duo also represented Concordia on the GPAC all-conference teams.

Kisker, who hails from Lincoln, was a first team all-conference this season after leading the Bulldogs with a career high 378 kills. The lethal outside hitter was a Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete for the second year in a row and finished her career with more than 1,000 kills.

Smith, a native of Temecula, Calif., earned second team all-conference recognition. She paced Concordia defensively with 512 digs while playing in 114 sets.