Bulldogs host No. 9 Midland with hopes of extending season

By Jacob Knabel on Oct. 31, 2017 in Volleyball

SEWARD, Neb. – By the end of the day on Wednesday, the Concordia University volleyball team will have learned whether its season will extend into the GPAC tournament. The final day of the regular season will provide the Bulldogs another opportunity for a potential building block victory. Concordia will welcome No. 9 Midland to Walz Arena for a 7:30 p.m. CT first serve on Wednesday.

Sixth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad can clinch the GPAC’s No. 8 seed with a win or a Dakota Wesleyan loss to No. 20 Morningside on Wednesday. The Bulldogs (9-17, 3-12 GPAC) have qualified for the postseason each season under Mattera.

In order for Concordia to reach double figures in wins, it’s going to have to figure out how to defeat a highly rated opponent either on Wednesday or in this weekend’s conference quarterfinals. The Bulldogs enter the week having won four in a row inside Walz Arena. The late push was crucial to Concordia’s chances of a GPAC tournament berth. The conference wins came over Dakota Wesleyan, Mount Marty and College of Saint Mary.

Freshman setter Tara Callahan continues to raise her level of play. Named the GPAC setter of the week on Oct. 24, the Brady, Neb., native just missed a career high with her 11 kills (on 15 swings) in the victory over Grace University last week . She also tossed up 33 assists on the same day she received the GPAC honor. Callahan then added 26 assists and six kills at Briar Cliff on Oct. 28. She has racked up 826 assists and 99 kills over 92 sets this season.

Callahan should soon become the seventh Bulldog to eclipse 100 kills in 2017. Sophomore Alex La Plant paces the team with 232 kills. Last week junior Jenna Habegger (206 kills) also went past the 200-kill barrier. Other teammates with at least 100 kills are sophomore Emmie Noyd (160), junior Kelsey Baarck (137), senior Annie Friesen (107) and freshman Anna Lund (103).

Meanwhile, Midland (17-8, 10-5 GPAC) continues to place itself among the elite teams in the GPAC. Though it has dropped three in a row, those losses all came against teams ranked sixth or better in the national poll. The Warriors boast one of the conference’s top players in middle Priscilla O’Dowd, who is hitting .394 with 319 kills and 95 blocks. Midland has already locked itself into the No. 4 seed for the GPAC tournament.

Wednesday’s match will be shown live via the Concordia Sports Network. Should the Bulldogs claim a spot in the GPAC tournament, they would likely be headed to Hastings (22-1, 14-1 GPAC) on Saturday for one of four quarterfinal matches.