Concordia needed five sets to earn a 3-2 GPAC volleyball win over Dakota Wesleyan on Friday evening in Seward. The Bulldogs came back from a huge deficit in set four to force a fifth and deciding set. Scores of the match were 22-25, 25-17, 24-26, 25-23 and 15-10. With the win, Concordia improved to 11-17 overall and 4-9 in the GPAC. Dakota Wesleyan dropped to 7-23 overall and remained winless in conference play at 0-12.
The visiting Tigers led from start to finish in the first set. DWU led by as many as seven (15-8), but Concordia rallied to pull within one at 21-20 on a kill by Amanda Kisker (Lincoln, Neb.). The Tigers pulled away, however, and a kill by Rachel Tinklenberg gave the Tigers the 25-22 victory.
DWU took an early 6-4 lead in the second set, but Concordia quickly responded with a 7-1 run to grab an 11-7 lead. The Bulldogs continued to pull away throughout the rest of the set, and an Ashlea Vaudt (Kalispell, Mont.) kill secured the 25-17 victory for Concordia.
Set three went down to the wire with multiple ties and lead changes down the stretch. The Bulldogs had a set point at 24-23. Following a timeout, DWU tied the set with a kill by Danielle Bird. Following a hitting error by Concordia, another kill by Bird gave the Tigers the 26-24 win and a 2-1 match lead.
Dakota Wesleyan looked to be pulling away for their first conference win of the season, as the Tigers quickly built a 13-4 lead in the fourth set. Concordia chipped away at the lead. Trailing 19-14, Concordia used a 6-1 run to tie the set at 20-20. Dakota Wesleyan reclaimed the lead at 21-20 following a timeout, but Mariah Schamp (Arvada, Colo.) tied the set again with a kill for the Bulldogs. A DWU attack error and a kill by Denton (Fremont, Neb.) increased the Bulldog lead to 23-21. A block by Tinklenberg and Elizabeth Humiston pulled the Tigers back within one at 23-22. Concordia reclaimed a 2-point lead, but a serving error once again cut the Concordia lead to one at 24-23. Schamp closed the door on the set with another kill for Concordia, and the match was sent to a fifth and deciding set.
The Bulldogs got off to a fast start in the final set, taking a quick 5-1 lead on a block by Vaudt and Denton. The Tigers didn’t go quietly, however, and an ace serve by Brooke Warne pulled DWU back within one at 9-8. Concordia again had an answer, scoring the next three points to take a 12-8 lead and force another DWU timeout. A kill by Vaudt and two kills by Denton gave the Bulldogs the 15-10 set win and 3-2 victory.
Kisker led the way with a team-high 15 kills to go along with 14 digs. Vaudt and Denton also had big nights on their Senior Night. Vaudt had 12 kills to go with two solo blocks and an assisted block. Denton chipped in with 10 kills and three solo blocks. Schamp added nine kills on the night for a balanced Bulldog attack. Alexa Hopping (Sutherland, Neb.), another one of the Bulldog seniors, handed out 26 set assists and added 11 digs. Kayla James (Gibbon, Neb.) had 23 set assists on the night. Defensively, Carli Smith (Temecula, Calif.) had a team-high 17 digs, while Angela Bruhn (Creston, Neb.) added 10 digs.
Tinklenberg had a match-high 17 kills to lead the way for the Tigers in a losing effort. Bird also reached double figures with 11 kills. Briana Jung had 22 set assists, while Warne finished with a match-high 26 digs for the Tigers.
Concordia hosts Dordt College on Saturday in the final home game of the season for the Bulldogs. It will be Parents Day at the Walz Human Performance Complex. Matches are scheduled for 1:30 and 3.