SEWARD, Neb. – The final day of the Bulldog Bash could prove to be a confidence builder for the Concordia University volleyball team. While playing back-to-back matches in back-to-back days, the Bulldogs defeated NCAA Division II Missouri Southern State University, 25-19, 25-22, 19-25, 29-27, and then York College, 25-9, 25-14, 20-25, 25-14.
The final tilt with York was a battle of attrition between a couple of tired squads. Sixth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad continues to show progress and has now run its record back to .500 (5-5).
“This was a learning experience,” Mattera said. “We talked before the fourth game (versus York) that this game was about telling yourselves and everybody else who we really are, and we did it in the fourth. We’re going to get out of here 3-1 on the weekend. It’s a team that’s clearly growing.”
Several key figures made up for the absence of sophomore middle Emmie Noyd for the second day in a row. Five different Bulldogs pelted 10 or more kills in the victory over Missouri Southern State (2-2) as setter Tara Callahan (51 assists) sprayed the ball around. Her passes were finished by the likes of Kelsey Baarck (13), Alex La Plant (12), Annie Friesen (11), Jenna Habegger (11) and Anna Lund (10).
However, it was gritty defensive work that keyed the win. The Bulldogs held the Lions to .070 hitting. Jocelyn Garcia piled up 19 digs and Emma Brand totaled 18. Concordia also threw in 11 blocks – eight of which involved Callahan, a versatile setter with many skills.
In the win over York (1-9), Habegger hit .556 and slammed a career high equaling 11 kills. The junior from Pawnee City, Neb., has stepped into a much larger role this fall.
“It’s definitely a bigger role and I’m really excited to do that,” Habegger said. “I played behind people like Claire White and Tiegen Skains and I learned a lot from them the past two years. This year I’m ready to show everybody what they taught me.”
Habegger and company hit .381 while dispatching of York. Other than a hiccup in the third set, the Bulldogs were efficient on the attack despite tired legs. Garcia totaled 31 digs on the day, pushing her career number to 1,467 as she pushes closer to the 1,500 mark. La Plant was the team’s kills leader in both matches with 12 and then 15.
The Bulldogs hope a challenging nonconference schedule has prepared them well for the start of the GPAC season. Concordia and fourth-ranked Midland (7-3) will go head-to-head on Wednesday with first serve of the varsity match slated for 7:30 p.m. CT in Fremont. The Warriors are coming off a season in which they advanced to the national semifinals.