Bulldogs take four-match win streak to Briar Cliff

By Jacob Knabel on Oct. 27, 2017 in Volleyball

SEWARD, Neb. – After a successful four-match home stand, the Concordia University volleyball team will be on the road on Saturday, hoping to claim a victory at Briar Cliff. First serve of Saturday’s varsity match is set for 3 p.m. CT from the Newman Flanagan Center in Sioux City, Iowa. The Bulldogs will attempt to avenge a four-set home defeat to the Chargers on Sept. 30. Saturday’s match can be viewed live via Briar Cliff’s Stretch Internet portal.

A road test within the conference will provide another barometer of just how much sixth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad has grown in recent weeks. Concordia (9-16, 3-11 GPAC) has dominated during its active win streak, claiming wins over College of Saint Mary, Dakota Wesleyan, Mount Marty and Grace University. Following the first three of those four triumphs, freshman Tara Callahan earned GPAC setter of the week accolades. In Tuesday’s win, the Royals had no answer for Callahan, who went for 33 assists and 11 kills.

Many of Callahan’s assists during the win streak have resulted in kills for sophomore middle Emmie Noyd. Concordia is more likely to have success when it finds Noyd in the middle. She’s hit .385 or better in each of the last five matches, boosting her season hitting percentage to .314. The native of Shelby, Neb., racked up 34 kills and made just two errors over the past three GPAC victories. Noyd is one of six Bulldogs with at least 100 kills on the year. The team leader is sophomore Alex La Plant (227).

Briar Cliff (17-7, 7-7 GPAC) has been much like Concordia in the way that it has struggled to get over the hump against the GPAC’s top teams. Each of the Chargers’ seven GPAC wins have come against the squads residing in the bottom four of the GPAC standings. The team’s most prolific hitter is Courtney Schafer, who has piled up 267 kills (3.3 per set). As a team, Briar Cliff sports national rankings of 31st in kills per set (13.1), 32nd in blocks per set (2.1) and 41st in hitting percentage (.212).

The Chargers have already clinched a spot in the GPAC tournament. They will be seeded anywhere from fifth to seventh, pending results over the next five days. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs are aiming to secure the No. 8 seed. One more victory would lock Concordia into the postseason.

Regular-season action will conclude on Wednesday (Nov. 1) when the Bulldogs host No. 9 Midland (17-7, 10-4 GPAC). The quarterfinal round of the conference tournament on Saturday, Nov. 4. Additional dates for the GPAC tournament are Nov. 8 for the semifinals and Nov. 11 for the championship.