Bulldogs fall in GPAC opener at No. 9 Midland

By Jacob Knabel on Sep. 6, 2017 in Volleyball

FREMONT, Neb. – Trips to Fremont can be treacherous for any volleyball program. In a Wednesday tilt with No. 9 Midland at the Wikert Event Center, the Bulldogs acquitted themselves well in the second set but ultimately suffered the same fate as many visitors, dropping the match, 25-14, 25-22, 25-17.

Sixth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad entered the night having won three of its four weekend matches at the Bulldog Bash. Concordia now stands at 5-6 overall after becoming the Warriors’ eighth victim in a row. Wednesday marked the GPAC opener for both sides.

“Midland is just a much more polished team at this point and they played well,” Mattera said. “We came out nervous in our first conference road match and that showed in game one. We settled in during game two and really played good volleyball. When you hit .387 against Midland, you know you're clicking. It just came down to late errors. Game three was much closer than the score indicated but they really showed us what a consistent team looks like.”

Consistency is easier to come by when you can send out middles like Priscilla O’Dowd (13 kills on 28 swings) and Sydney Morehouse (9 kills on 11 attacks). They spearheaded an attack that outhit the Bulldogs, .296 to .200. Concordia’s hot second set was mitigated in part by its seven service errors that came during that stretch. A .294 hitting percentage in the second set was good enough for the Warriors (8-3, 1-0 GPAC), who were ranked fourth in the national preseason poll.

On the plus side, junior outside hitter Kelsey Baarck enjoyed a fine night, flooring nine kills on 13 swings. Once again, sophomore Alex La Plant topped the team with 12 kills. Freshman Tara Callahan sprayed around 30 assists. Defensively, senior Jocelyn Garcia recorded 18 digs and sophomore Harlie Himmelberg added 12 digs.

This weekend will provide the Bulldogs a breather in the schedule. They are slated to return to action next Wednesday (Sept. 13) for a road contest at No. 16 Doane (8-4, 0-1 GPAC). Concordia hopes to snap a three-match series losing streak to the Tigers. Doane has played six nationally-ranked teams to this point. In Wednesday’s action, the Tigers were beaten in straight sets at No. 1 Hastings.

“Overall there were a lot of positives from this one. We just need to keep growing,” Mattera said. “We are looking forward to a few days off to get healthy and we're going to have a great week getting ready for a big one next Wednesday.”