Bulldogs prepping for challenging week in the GPAC

By Jacob Knabel on Sep. 17, 2018 in Volleyball

SEWARD, Neb. – A challenging five-day stretch is on the immediate horizon for the Concordia University volleyball team. After having the weekend off, the Bulldogs will be back in action on Tuesday to host Doane. Concordia will also play nationally-ranked teams on Thursday and Saturday as the schedule continues to ramp up in difficulty level.

This week
Tuesday, Sept. 18 vs. No. 22 Doane (8-7, 1-1 GPAC)
Thursday, Sept. 20 at No. 11 Hastings (8-2, 3-0 GPAC)
Saturday, Sept. 22 vs. No. 16 Northwestern (11-4, 2-1 GPAC)

Both home matches this week will be streamed live via the Concordia Sports Network. Thursday’s match at Hastings can be viewed via Stretch Internet. The Tuesday and Thursday matches will be featured on 104.9 Max Country radio.

The last time out, first-year head coach Ben Boldt’s squad fell in four sets at Morningside. Just like the loss two days earlier to eighth-ranked Midland, Concordia dropped the fourth set by a two-point margin. Thus, the Bulldogs continue to seek a signature GPAC win over a ranked opponent. Based on the current polls, Concordia’s most impressive win remains its four-set triumph over McPherson College (Kan.) (14-1), a squad that continues to be rated as the No. 1 team in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference. The Bulldogs also own two victories over Kansas Wesleyan University, the KCAC’s third-ranked team.

The loss to Midland snapped a 12-match win streak to open up the season and was also Concordia’s first home defeat in eight matches at Walz Arena this season. Going back to last year, the Bulldogs are 11-2 over their last 13 home matches. The 12-0 start to this season marked the best unbeaten run for a Concordia team since it opened up at 18-0 in 2005 when it was led by then head coach Rachel Miller.

Despite last week’s results, the Bulldogs have won 38 of 48 sets played this season. Concordia has been paced on the attack by the likes of outside hitter Jenna Habegger (159 kills, .271) and middle Emmie Noyd (116 kills, .317). Sophomore Marissa Hoerman (4.88 digs per set), named GPAC Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 11, continues to clean up in the back row. Tara Callahan (212 assists, 33 kills) and Kaci Hohenthaner (302 assists, 16 aces) provide a diverse set of skills at the setter position.

Situated at No. 8 in this week’s official GPAC ratings, Concordia comes in behind each of this week’s opponents – Doane (seventh), Hastings (third) and Northwestern (fourth). Doane picked up its first GPAC win of the season by holding off College of Saint Mary in five sets this past weekend. Hastings has yet to suffer a conference loss having beaten Doane, College of Saint Mary and Morningside. Northwestern has topped Briar Cliff and Jamestown and lost in four sets at Dordt. The Red Raiders again have a powerful attack. They rank seventh nationally in hitting percentage (.276). National champions in 2016, the Broncos currently rank ninth in the NAIA in blocks per set (2.42) behind one of the nation’s best blockers in Emily Lenners (1.37 blocks per set).

The Bulldogs will have some time off after the weekend. Next week’s schedule will have Concordia traveling to Jamestown for a match on Friday, Sept. 28. The next day the Bulldogs will be at Dakota Wesleyan.