SEWARD, Neb. – Every match down the stretch will be critical to the Concordia University volleyball team’s chances of qualifying for the GPAC tournament. Only four matches remain in the regular season for first-year head coach Ben Boldt’s squad, which will be in action only once this week. The Bulldogs (13-9, 3-9 GPAC) are getting set for Wednesday’s matchup at College of Saint Mary (12-14, 2-9 GPAC).
First serve from the Lied Fitness Center in Omaha, Neb., on Wednesday is set for 7:30 p.m. CT (junior varsity at 6 p.m.). The matches can be viewed live via College of Saint Mary’s Stretch Internet portal. Additionally, Frank Greene will have the radio call for 104.9 Max Country.
Concordia hopes to build upon the final two sets at Dordt that were part of a loss this past weekend. The Bulldogs dropped both sets by two points, but responded well after struggling with the Defender serve in a lopsided opening set. Up against 14th-ranked Hastings (14-5, 9-3 GPAC) and eighth-ranked Dordt (19-2, 12-0 GPAC) last week, Concordia fell twice in straight sets, but four of those sets were decided by two points. Additionally, the Bulldogs had set point opportunities slip through their fingers in three instances.
Boldt would love to see his team’s offensive firepower showcased like it was in this season’s first meeting with College of Saint Mary, which resulted in a Concordia win in five sets (25-19, 24-26, 27-25, 23-25, 15-10). In that tussle inside Walz Arena on Sept. 4, the Bulldogs hit .291 and were fueled by a career high 23 kills from junior middle blocker Emmie Noyd. When times get tight, it’s a safe play to go to Noyd, who ranks fourth in the GPAC in blocks per set (1.1) and fifth among conference players in hitting percentage (.292).
One player the Flames did not see in that first meeting is sophomore Kara Stark, who has put down 66 kills in seven matches since Sept. 20. Meanwhile, senior outside hitter Jenna Habegger has recorded a new career season best with 223 kills in 2018. She ranks 10th in the conference with 3.1 kills per set. From a defensive perspective, Noyd and company are coming on. They rank 22nd nationally in blocks per set (2.18) as a team.
College of Saint Mary is in major need of a victory having dropped to 11th in the GPAC standings, but only a half-game behind Concordia and Dakota Wesleyan (both are one game behind eighth-place Doane). The Flames own GPAC road wins over Briar Cliff and Mount Marty. They still have yet to secure a conference victory within the Lied Center, which has welcomed each of the conference’s ranked teams. The team’s top attacker is Dani Carlson, who swatted 20 kills at Concordia back in September. Carlson averages 3.25 kills per set.
The GPAC season will continue next Wednesday (Oct. 24) when Morningside visits Walz Arena. It will be senior night for the Bulldogs, who will recognize Habegger and Kelsey Baarck.