Bulldogs roll up season sweep of red-hot Doane

By on Oct. 10, 2014 in Volleyball

Bulldogs roll up season sweep of red-hot Doane

SEWARD, Neb. – Up against a red hot Doane squad, the Concordia University volleyball team elevated its play on Friday to sweep the regular-season series with the Tigers (11-13, 4-5 GPAC). The Bulldogs won the latest matchup, 25-18, 25-17, 25-21, in front of a large Hawaiian-themed Walz Arena student section. Concordia’s four-set victory at Doane on Sept. 17 marked the program’s first over its GPAC neighbor since 2007.

Winner of three-straight matches, the Bulldogs boosted their records to 15-7 overall and 6-3 in GPAC action, tying them for third with No. 21 Dordt (one-half game behind No. 8 Midland). After an excellent practice Thursday evening, Mattera felt good going into Friday’s tilt.

“I’m excited right now,” Mattera said. “I don’t want to get ahead of myself but that’s a great win against a team that’s really hot right now.”

Using its full complement of offensive weapons, Concordia outhit Doane .287 to .161. The Bulldogs also had their serve game working as they piled up 11 aces (three from Mariah Schamp) while making life tough on the Tiger serve receive.

Defensively, senior Carli Smith and company cleaned up. Smith dug up a team high 10 attacks and junior Claire White and sophomore Alayna Kavanaugh added eight apiece in stifling a Doane squad that had just knocked off No. 21 Dordt and No. 15 (NCAA DIII) Nebraska Wesleyan in its two prior matches.

“We actually worked on serve receive a lot yesterday in practice,” Smith said. “We knew that Doane is a great serving team. How we were going to get this win was by passing. A bunch of serves got on us today but we were able to pull them out. We had great passing.”

That serve receive helped pave the way for Kavanaugh’s 24 assists and for five different Bulldogs to post five or more kills. White shined with a match-high tying 10 kills on 22 swings (just two errors). Concordia also got offensive production from the likes of sophomores Paige Getz (10 kills) and Tiegen Skains (six kills, .545 hitting percentage), Schamp (five kills) and freshman Annie Friesen (five kills).

Employing a strategy similar to what it used in the first matchup with Concordia, Doane endeavored to contain the Bulldog middles. However, Mattera’s club simply had too much firepower for the Tigers to handle.

“What would you key on if you were trying to play against us?” Mattera said. “You could see what they chose. They picked their poison to try to shut down our middles. They hung on our middles so our outsides and our right sides just got it done.

“This is where we need to be.”

The Bulldogs jumped on Doane early in all three sets. Concordia got out to leads of 18-12 in the first, 16-7 in the second and 11-4 in the third. Down 20-12 in the second, the Tigers tallied the next four points before Concordia restored order with kills by Schamp and White in succession. Doane also made a push in the third set, rallying back to knot it at 21. The Bulldogs responded with the next four points, punctuating the win with a monster Getz kill for match point.

Even the knit pickers would struggle to find any fault in Concordia’s impressive night that included hitting percentages of .303 in the first set and .360 in the second.

“Doane is a great team,” Smith said. “But we came together. We knew what hitters we needed to get on, what hitters we needed to block and what players we needed to serve. We got it done. Coach told us exactly what we needed to do tonight and we followed him and got the win.”

Mattera’s game plan worked to perfection, even if he was at times distracted during the match by a spirited crowd in ridiculous attire.

“When have you seen Bulldog volleyball with a crowd all dressed up like that,” Mattera said. “They were into the match the whole time. I was getting distracted laughing at them. They were fantastic.”

The Bulldogs have the next four days off before returning to action on Wednesday when they play at Hastings (14-7, 4-4 GPAC) at 7:30 p.m. In the first meeting, Concordia topped the then No. 18 Broncos in five sets inside Walz Arena on Sept. 24. That win marked Bulldogs’ first over Hastings since 2007.

Mattera doesn’t expect anything to be easy from here on out.

“Someone was asking when a big match is. I said, ‘the rest of them.’