MITCHELL, S.D. – The Concordia University volleyball team checked off one of its goals for this season by clinching a top-four seed in the GPAC tournament, which is set to begin Saturday, Nov. 8. The Bulldogs earned a quarterfinal home match by toppling Dakota Wesleyan, 25-17, 25-20, 25-23, in Mitchell, S.D., on Saturday behind a near perfect performance from freshman middle Annie Friesen.
At 19-10 overall and 10-5 in GPAC play, head coach Scott Mattera’s squad remains tied with Dordt for third place with one more contest left in the regular season.
“We handled our business in 1 and 2 and survived the third,” Mattera said. “Annie was huge and Alayna (Kavanaugh) did a great job of forcing it to her. Tiegen (Skains) and Jocelyn (Garcia) came up with some big momentum plays and we pushed through in the end when Dakota Wesleyan really stepped up their game.”
Friesen collected nine kills on only 13 swings. She also recorded three blocks as part of another big defensive effort for the Bulldogs. Dakota Wesleyan (8-20, 1-14 GPAC) hit just .086 for the match. Senior Carli Smith played a starring role with 22 digs.
Kavanaugh’s precision passing led to 37 assists and a team total of 42 kills on the afternoon. Junior Claire White concluded solid week by topping the team with 10 kills (.360 hitting percentage). She also added 11 digs.
Not surprisingly, Kavanaugh showed no discrimination in her desire to spread the ball around. Senior Mariah Schamp (three blocks) floored nine kills and Skains chipped in eight.
No Tiger hitter managed more than the five kills from Sammy Fluck. Dakota Wesleyan posted its highest hitting percentage in game 3 (.196) as it nearly took the Bulldogs to a fourth set just like the meeting earlier this season in Seward.
With four consecutive conference wins, Concordia has put itself in a position to tie for second place with ninth-ranked Midland. The Warriors are a game up on the Bulldogs after falling in four sets to No. 6 Northwestern, which remains unbeaten in league play.
The Bulldogs will host for the final time during the regular season when Midland (21-7, 11-4 GPAC) visits Walz Arena for a 7:30 p.m. (JV at 6) match on Wednesday. In the first meeting this season between the two teams, the then ninth-ranked Warriors topped Concordia in four sets. The Bulldogs have won nine of 10 home matches in 2014.
“Wednesday night was always a match we were pointing to,” Mattera said. “It’s senior night, Midland, and now it's for second place in the league.”
The Bulldogs have already cemented their highest conference placement since a second-place claim in 2001. The 2000 Concordia squad tied for the GPAC regular-season title.