SEWARD, Neb. – In this week’s only action, the Concordia University volleyball team is getting set to play at home for the first time since Sept. 22. The Bulldogs will host Briar Cliff at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. First-year head coach Ben Boldt’s squad has been idle since last weekend’s trip to the Dakotas that resulted in losses at Jamestown and at Dakota Wesleyan.
The Friday match will be streamed live via the Concordia Sports Network with Frank Greene on the call. The program is offering free admission to any summer camp attendees who wear their Concordia volleyball camp shirt to the match. It has been dubbed Camper Reunion Night at Walz Arena.
Boldt has been pleased with the positivity in recent practices despite a seven-match skid. During that stretch, the Bulldogs have gone up against many of the conference’s top rated teams. The string of defeats means that it will be a battle for the final spots in the GPAC tournament. Concordia (12-7, 2-7 GPAC) is just behind three teams currently tied for eighth place: College of Saint Mary (2-6), Dakota Wesleyan (2-6) and Doane (2-6). The top eight amongst the 12 GPAC volleyball programs earn bids in the conference tournament.
Junior Emmie Noyd has continued to “be the woman,” as Boldt likes to put it. Noyd was named the Bulldog Athletic Association Athlete of the Month of September on Wednesday. She enters Friday’s match ranked 27th nationally with a hitting percentage of .323. She’s the leader for an offensive attack that ranks No. 28 in the NAIA in hitting percentage (.222). In terms of kills per set, Concordia’s top hitters are Jenna Habegger (3.11), Noyd (2.82), Arleigh Costello (1.95) and Alex La Plant (1.86).
Boldt believes improvement in the team’s serve and pass games will be a key factor in making a push down the stretch of the conference season. The little things could be the difference in getting the Bulldogs over the hump. Concordia is still finding its way when times get tight. It has dropped seven sets by three or fewer points during the current skid. There’s be glimpses of brilliance, as evidenced by the team’s win over McPherson College (Kan.), which is 19-1 and ranked 22nd in the NAIA poll.
Head coach Trevor Schirman’s Chargers (10-7, 4-4 GPAC) reside in seventh place in the conference standings. Last time out, Briar Cliff toppled its in-town rival Morningside, 25-22, 25-23, 25-16, on Sept. 29. Three days later the Mustangs upset No. 15 Northwestern. The Chargers are hitting only .186 as a team, but they have held their opponents to a .172 clip. In Briar Cliff’s win over Morningside, leading hitter Courtney Schafer pounced 15 kills and hit .536. Schafer has hit better than .500 in both of the team’s last two matches.
Looking ahead to next week, the Bulldogs will host No. 14 Hastings on Wednesday, Oct. 10 in what will be a pink out match for Concordia. Then on Saturday, Oct. 13, the Bulldogs will be at eighth-ranked Dordt as part of another challenging week in the GPAC.