SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University volleyball team entered its latest outing with a mark of 17-2 over its previous 19 home matches while sporting an unblemished 6-0 overall record in 2015. Visiting Benedictine College (Kan.) didn’t seem to notice. On Friday evening the Ravens came from behind for a 17-25, 25-23, 27-25, 26-24 victory over the host Bulldogs.
The loss also ended a streak of 14-straight non-conference home wins for Concordia volleyball. The most recent out-of-league loss inside Walz Arena prior to Friday came on Aug. 25, 2010.
“It wasn’t our night. That’s all there was to it,” said fourth-year head coach Scott Mattera. “We didn’t deal well with the circumstances. We pride ourselves on being a mature team that plays with confidence. Down the stretch we just didn’t make a number of plays that they did. Kudos to Benedictine. They played a great match.”
The Ravens (2-3), led by third-year head coach Erin Cooper, raised their level of play for a Bulldog squad receiving votes in the national poll. Benedictine called upon outside hitter Taylor Fortner (13 kills) in particular. The 5-foot-10 freshman floored six kills in game 3 and then another three in game 4. Fortner brought her team to a victorious uproar when she blocked a Taylor Workman attack for match point.
On the other side of the net, the Bulldogs hurt themselves with 16 service errors. In addition, senior Claire White did not take a single swing on the attack. Due to pain in her ankle, White played in the back row only and dug up 14 attacks.
Benedictine won despite being outhit .223 – .160 and having 15 fewer kills (60-45) than Concordia. The Ravens used a superior serve receive game and turned the tide in the second set after digging an 11-7 hole. Sara Rahmanzai spurred the rally with a block. Benedictine eventually took a 17-16 lead and ran off five of the second set’s final six points to grab momentum.
Rahmanzai and Fortner wreaked plenty of havoc in the front row, combining for 8.5 total team blocks.
“They mix it up well,” Mattera said. “They run stuff really fast. Their serve receive was fantastic tonight. They were able to spread it out and run their fast stuff and we didn’t react properly. We knew they were a good team coming in.”
Sophomore middle Annie Friesen enjoyed another big match, going for 15 kills on 28 swings. Three other Bulldogs also reached double figures in kills: freshman Jenna Habegger (11) and juniors Paige Getz (10) and Alayna Kavanaugh (10). Kavanaugh also contributed 41 assists and 14 digs. Sophomore Jocelyn Garica topped the team with 15 digs.
The Bulldogs return to action on Saturday when they host Bethel College (Kan.) (2-4) at 10 a.m. and York College (2-5) at 5 p.m. as part of the Bulldog Bash inside Walz Arena. The event includes four varsity matches and three junior varsity matches all on Saturday. JV contests will be held in the PE Building gym.