SEWARD, Neb. – In its first outing of the 2015 season, the Concordia University volleyball team delivered on head coach Scott Mattera’s vision of showcasing a fast, powerful and athletic squad. The Bulldogs kicked off the new season by hitting a sweltering .522 to dispatch of visiting Bethany College, 25-15, 25-11, 25-8, on Saturday afternoon.
The victory moved Concordia (1-0) to 16-2 over its last 18 home matches. The Bulldogs won their latest contest inside Walz Arena, fueled by the work of middles Annie Friesen (nine kills) and Taylor Workman (six kills, four blocks). The duo combined for 15 kills on only 18 swings.
“I’m really proud of the ladies. You saw a whole bunch of kids just plain do their jobs today,” Mattera said. “There wasn’t a player on our roster that didn’t do exactly what she is expected to do when she gets in there. I’m so happy with us right now.”
Junior setter Alayna Kavanaugh, a returning first team all-conference performer, served the ball up on a tee for an array of attacking teammates. In addition to the eye-popping production in the middle, senior Claire White notched eight kills and junior Paige Getz added seven. Kavanaugh assisted on 35 of the team’s 42 kills.
There was very little that did not go the Bulldogs way. Bethany tallied the first point of the afternoon on an attack error, but Workman came right back with a kill that initiated a 5-0 run. Concordia dominated the rest of the way, posting hitting percentages of .789 and .600 in the second and third sets, respectively. Meanwhile, the Swedes struggled all afternoon to get anything going on the attack. They hit -.016 for the match.
For Workman, it was her first live action in an official match since she tore her ACL in a win at Morningside on Sept. 27 of last season.
“It was awesome,” Workman said. “It was definitely a little scary. I wasn’t sure how it was going to go or how my knee was going to react.”
Friesen totaled three kills in each of the three sets to equal her team high total. She was 9-for-9 on the attack until Bethany finally dug up a Friesen smash with Concordia leading 14-3 in the third set. Getz scalded five kills during the Bulldogs’ ultra-efficient second game in which they hit .789 and ended 15 points via kill.
Mattera also lauded the work of service specialists Katie Peterson and Libby Zagel. They had one ace apiece while routinely rifling missiles that kept Bethany off balance and out of rhythm.
“I can’t tell you how hard they have worked to find that niche and they are doing a dynamite job of it,” Mattera said. “I’m so proud of them.”
Fifteen different Bulldogs appeared in Saturday’s match. Freshman Jenna Habegger saw her first collegiate action and capitalized by nailing kills on both of her attack attempts. She was one of nine Bulldogs with at least one kill. In the razor-sharp effort, Concordia committed only seven attack errors.
Players up and down the roster contributed to the blowout victory.
“Part of what’s picking up our program so much is the level of play in practice,” Mattera said. “There’s very little drop off between the first and second teams here. We couldn’t be happier with today.”
Leila Whaley paced the Swedes with seven kills. The Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference member has now dropped 20-consecutive matches dating back to last season.
Defensively for the Bulldogs, Kelsey Dinkel and Jocelyn Garcia tied for a team high with seven digs apiece. White chipped in six digs.
The Bulldogs now look forward to an in-state battle with Bellevue University inside Walz Arena at 7 p.m. on Tuesday. Concordia will attempt to avenge last season’s tense 21-25, 25-19, 25-22, 15-25, 16-14 loss on the Bruins’ home court. Bellevue is 1-3 with its win coming over No. 23 Lewis-Clark State College (Idaho).
Bulldogs debut on Max Country: Saturday marked the first-ever live Concordia sports broadcast by 104.9 Max Country. Frank Greene called play-by-play for Max Country.