MITCHELL, S.D. – On the scoreboard, it did not go the way of Concordia University volleyball on the team’s weekend getaway to the Dakotas. After falling in straight sets at Jamestown on Friday, the Bulldogs returned to action Saturday (Sept. 29) at Dakota Wesleyan. Behind outside hitter Rebecca Frick, the host Tigers put Concordia away in four, 25-23, 24-26, 25-16, 25-18, in Mitchell, S.D.
Nothing has been easy in conference play for first-year head coach Ben Boldt’s squad. The Bulldogs have dropped seven in a row and now sport records of 12-7 overall and 2-7 in conference play.
“We are still trying to figure out a way to win,” Boldt said. “Our serving game needs to get a lot better. We had three aces to 10 errors. We need to be serving more aggressively, yet keeping the ball in play. That’s something we’re going to focus on moving forward. We out-dug them, so our defense was there. Our block was good at times and our offense was good at times. I really think the serve and pass game is what we need to keep focusing on.”
Senior Kelsey Baarck saw the most action of her season to date. She converted kills on 11 of her 22 attacks while providing a spark off the bench. She hit .409 in perhaps the best match of her career as a Bulldog. Baarck is in her second season at Concordia after transferring from Mott Community College.
“She came in and gave us a really nice spark,” Boldt said. “She really hit the ball hard tonight. I was proud of her. She brought some good life to the team.”
Dakota Wesleyan (12-8, 2-6 GPAC) was up to the task on the other side of the net. The Tigers were also hungry for a win having dropped their previous five matches. Frick pounded out 22 kills (57 attempts) and Emily Brunsing was in on 10 of the team’s 14 blocks (compared to six blocks for the Bulldogs). Spurred by setter Bridgett Knobbe (44 assists), Dakota Wesleyan hit a rock solid .295. Meanwhile, Concordia hit .184 though it actually had more kills than the Tigers (57-52).
Baarck was not the only Bulldog that lived it up from an attacking perspective. Senior Emmie Noyd drilled 18 kills while hitting .406. Additionally, sophomore Kara Stark went for 14 kills (.333) from the outside. Sophomore Tara Callahan (45 assists, nine digs) took the lion’s share of the setting opportunities. Alex La Plant paced the team with 14 digs and Noyd added four block assists.
Dakota Wesleyan also put three players in double figures under the kills column. In addition to Frick’s big afternoon, Chelsey Heeg chipped in 12 kills and Brunsing put up 10. The Tigers dropped in two service aces and had six service errors.
While Concordia will return home without a victory on the road trip, it made an impact upon many young students at L’Amour Elementary, where the team visited in Jamestown, N.D., on Friday.
“They were very welcoming to us,” Boldt said. “I think our players learn just as much as the elementary kids did. We were in a class that was teaching robotics to kids. That was one of the things we did. Creating relationships with the next generation is what that’s all about. Our players really engaged with them. It was a great experience for our team – and the elementary kids came to our match at Jamestown that night.”
The Bulldogs will now be idle until Friday (Oct. 5) when they welcome Briar Cliff (9-7, 3-4 GPAC) to Walz Arena for a 7:30 p.m. CT first serve. Concordia has gone 7-3 at home this season with all three defeats coming within conference play. In Saturday’s action, the Chargers went head-to-head with Morningside in a match that got started at 7 p.m.