ORANGE CITY, Iowa – Through four matches, the Concordia University volleyball team has been perfect. After a nip-and-tuck opening set on Saturday (Aug. 25) morning, the Bulldogs dominated the second set in the process of taking care of MidAmerica Nazarene University (Kan.), 26-24, 25-13, 25-20, in Orange City, Iowa. The victory capped a 3-0 stay on the campus of Northwestern College.
First-year head coach Ben Boldt’s squad also claimed wins over Waldorf University (Iowa) and Baker University (Kan.) on Friday. Concordia has moved to 4-0 on the young season.
“We made a big run towards the end there and before you know it we’re up by about three points going into the 20s,” Boldt said of Saturday’s third set. “It was fun to see us go through some adversity and then come back up and finish off the match. It was a really good win. I felt good about it. We earned our points. They didn’t give us the match.”
With the return of Tara Callahan on Saturday, the Boldts made an adjustment. Kaci Hohenthaner served as the back row setter and Callahan facilitated from the front row. The hope is take advantage of Callahan’s diverse skillset. In her first match of 2018 she put up 15 assists and had a hand in four of the team’s nine blocks. Said Boldt, “We got our system rolling pretty good in the second set.”
That second set saw the emergence of freshman Morgan Nibbe. She pummeled four of her seven kills during that stretch in which the Bulldogs hit a sweltering .400. On the other side of the net, MidAmerica Nazarene went through some offensive struggles, racking up 11 of its 24 attack errors on the day.
As smoothly as the second set went, the first and third sets were just the opposite. The Pioneers had a set point opportunity in the opening set and then jumped out to a 13-4 advantage in the third. Off to a nice start in her senior campaign, Jenna Habegger floored points 25 and 26 of the first set. Defensively, Marissa Hoerman dug in with seven of her match high 14 digs coming in the final set, helping provide a chance for a comeback. Habegger eventually ended the weekend run with her team high 12th kill of the match.
While it’s still early, the 2018 Bulldogs have already done an exceptional job of putting behind the frustrations felt by the 2017 Bulldogs.
Said Boldt, “Our team as a whole is having a lot of fun. When we’re down, our bench mob is the loudest cheering team. They’re in and they’re engaged. They kind of willed us back into this. I was really, really happy with not only how the players on the court responded but also how the entire team responded to adversity.”
Freshman Arleigh Costello continues to succeed on the right side. She hammered nine kills on 14 swings. Junior Alex La Plant also chipped in seven kills. The setting duo of Callahan and Hohenthaner (18 assists) combined for 33 assists. They aided Concordia in outhitting MidAmerica Nazarene, .218 to .093.
The Pioneers, a member of the Heart of America Athletic Conference, got a team best 10 kills from Maria Ayzaguer. MidAmerica Nazarene (1-4) lost each of its four weekend matches against GPAC opponents.
Concordia’s next six matches will all take place inside Walz Arena, where it opened the season with a dominant win over York College. The string of home contests begins on Wednesday (Aug. 29) when Kansas Wesleyan University (3-1) makes a visit to Seward. First serve is set for 7 p.m. CT.