Chicago Dawgs conclude road trip with unblemished mark

By on Aug. 29, 2015 in Volleyball

Chicago Dawgs conclude road trip with unblemished mark

CHICAGO – For the first time since 2005, the Concordia University volleyball team has raced out to a 6-0 start. On Saturday the Bulldogs completed a 4-0 Windy City road trip by taking care of two more Chicago-area NAIA programs. Fourth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad made the University of Saint Francis (23-25, 25-19, 25-23, 25-20) and Trinity Christian College (25-13, 25-19, 25-16) its latest victims.

Mattera liked the way his team responded to the physical toll after fending off Saint Xavier University in a five-set match on Friday night as part of another day of back-to-back matches.

“This was kind of a toughness challenge and we passed it pretty well,” Mattera said. “Saint Francis is a nice team. They’re really well coached. They have a really good history. They play defense. If you saw the Bellevue match, you saw the Saint Francis match. They blitzed us in the first game and we realized our pressure needs time to take over and eventually it did.”

The day opened with the Bulldogs shaking off a first-set loss for the second-straight outing on the way to victory in Saturday’s morning affair. Concordia’s powerful style proved too much and wore down Saint Francis. Four different Bulldog attackers floored 10 or more kills: Claire White (12), Annie Friesen (10), Paige Getz (10) and Taylor Workman (10).

Her 20 kills on Saturday gave White an even 50 for the weekend. Her leadership again proved a key factor in Concordia winning for the third time this season after dropping the opening set.

“The first one was ugly,” White said. “We just knew it was going to be one of those day two, just get through it, we’ve been here a long time (things). We were doing what we knew how to do, nothing fancy, and just sticking with it.”

The Saints took the first set after giving back a lead as large as eight points (16-8). While Saint Francis got 14 kills from Shelby Kupferschmid, the Bulldogs countered with their usual balanced attack and limited the Saints to sub-.150 attack percentages in each of the final three sets. Setter Alayna Kavanaugh sparked the defensive effort with a team high 14 digs to go along with her 40 assists.

At any hint of trouble in the early season, Concordia has quickly righted the ship.

“Volleyball is such a momentum sport,” Mattera said. “One of the biggest keys is how you react to your mistakes. Do you move on and score the next point? All weekend you didn’t see many runs against us. We came back from our mistakes very well and that’s the mark of a mature team.”

In the final match of the trip, Concordia overwhelmed defending National Christian College Athletic Association national champion Trinity Christian. Getz’s nine kills topped a group of eight Bulldogs with at least one kill. Concordia posted a .367 hitting percentage while stifling the Trolls, who hit .013. The lopsided victory allowed Mattera to use 14 players. On the other hand, injury-ridden Trinity Christian employed just eight individuals.

Workman needed only nine swings to amass her eight kills on the Troll homecourt. Defensively, Jocelyn Garcia dug up 11 attacks and Annie Friesen totaled three blocks in addition to her six kills.

After taking care of business on Saturday, the Bulldogs enjoyed dinner at Giordano’s. The weekend stay also included a boat ride along the Chicago River, a stroll around downtown sites (including ‘The Bean’), musical scores in the vans and several other meals at Windy City staples.

“We’ve just had a lot of funny moments, a lot of fun times,” White said. “I think last night’s game was the best we’ve played, but we’ve had a lot of fun in the van rides.”

The Bulldogs break until hosting the Bulldog Bash Sept. 4-5 inside Walz Arena. Concordia will welcome a trio of opponents for the weekend: Benedictine College (Kan.), Bethel College (Kan.) and York College. All matches will be carried by the Concordia Sports Network.