CHICAGO – Powered by its veteran stars, the Concordia University volleyball team took its act to the Windy City and remained unbeaten on the young season. The Bulldogs took care of Roosevelt University (Ill.) in straight sets, 28-26, 25-17, 25-21, before a white knuckler of a five-set victory, 20-25, 25-16, 18-25, 25-18, 15-12, over host Saint Xavier University to conclude Friday’s action.
With a violent right-handed swing, sophomore middle Annie Friesen sent her teammates and the group of traveling Bulldog fans into an uproar. Said setter Alayna Kavanaugh, “I screamed. It was amazing.” Friesen’s kill completed the 2-0 day and moved the Bulldogs to 4-0 in 2015.
“It was a difficult match because they’re a really good team,” Concordia head coach Scott Mattera said. “Saint Xavier is going to make some noise this year. There’s no doubt about that. It was a really good early-season test for us.
“Some players really stepped up in the fifth and we had some girls tough it out today. That’s a lot of volleyball in one day and we have to come back tomorrow morning.”
Senior Claire White enjoyed a terrifically productive day on the attack, going for a combined 30 kills, including 20 versus Saint Xavier. After Concordia dropped the opening set to the Cougars, White dominated the second with six kills. White then slammed five more kills in the fourth.
White teamed up with junior Paige Getz for a combined 55 kills on the evening. They were spurred on by more stellar work from Kavanaugh, who sprayed around 88 assists on Friday. In the victory over Saint Xavier, Kavanaugh filled the stat sheet with 53 assists, 11 digs and seven kills.
Once again, Friesen was nails in the middle, totaling 16 kills on her 27 swings for the day. Kavanaugh made sure everyone got involved.
“We’ve been working hard at mixing the flow,” Kavanaugh said. “And getting the ball to everyone, not just certain people. I think it’s paying off.”
Mattera sprinkled praise all around afterwards.
“Honestly we could mention every player who took the floor tonight and mention some awesome things that they did,” Mattera said. “Katie (Peterson) and Libby (Zagel) coming off the bench serving again; they were both well over 85 percent on ripping jumpers and that’s such a big key for us. Tiegen (Skains) stepped up huge in the fifth game. Our middles really stepped up in 4 and 5. Paige had some great swings. Jocelyn (Garcia) was Jocelyn … “
In Friday’s opening match, Concordia outlasted Roosevelt in a seesaw first set and then overcame a 5-1 deficit to begin the third. Peterson blasted three-consecutive aces in the third and concluding game to lift the Bulldogs back. They finally took their first lead at 17-16 when Taylor Workman floored a Laker overpass for a kill. Skains later dropped in point No. 24 and a Roosevelt attack error resulted in match point.
Getz, who pounded a team high 12 kills versus Roosevelt, heated up in the second set with five kills during Concordia’s sharpest stretch of match No. 1. Getz and the ‘Dogs hit .276 compared to -.107 by Roosevelt in the second game as the Bulldogs took control of the match.
However, Roosevelt, which went 22-17 last season out of the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference, stressed the Bulldogs with a solid serve game. The Lakers (0-3) totaled 12 aces with five alone coming from Marissa Minturn.
Saint Xavier, another Chicagoland member, got its most efficient work from Meghan Falsey (16 kills on 32 swings). The Cougars dropped to 2-2 overall.
Defensively, dig numbers were well spread out among Bulldogs. Friday’s dig leaders were: Garcia (27), Kendra Dinkel (24), Kavanaugh (24) and White (21).
Concordia is off to a 4-0 start for the second time in three seasons. The 2005 Bulldogs hold the program record for most consecutive wins to begin a season. They went on an 18-0 run before falling Sept. 17 of that year.
The Bulldogs continue from the Windy City on Saturday with matches slated for 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. CT inside De Vos Gymnasium on the Trinity Christian College campus. Concordia will take on the University of Saint Francis (Ill.) (0-0) before challenging host Trinity Christian (1-3) to conclude the Chicago trip. Both of Saturday’s matches can be seen live on the web by clicking HERE.