SEWARD, Neb. – Fresh off a dominant straight-sets win over Bethany College in its season opener, the Concordia University volleyball team enters a busy week that includes five matches. First up will be in-state rival Bellevue University in a 7 p.m. match inside Walz Arena on Tuesday. Head coach Scott Mattera will then take his team to Chicago for the Saint Xavier University/Trinity Christian College Crossover Tournament for a pair of contests on both Friday and Saturday.
SXU/TCC Crossover Tournament (Aug. 28-29)
Friday, Aug. 28 at Saint Xavier University
4:30 p.m. vs. Roosevelt University (Ill.)
7 p.m. vs. Saint Xavier University
Site: The Shannon Center (3,000)
Saturday, Aug. 29 at Trinity Christian College
10:30 a.m. vs. University of Saint Francis (Ill.)
1 p.m. vs. Trinity Christian College (Ill.)
Site: DeVos Gymnasium
Concordia rolls in season opener
All 15 varsity players saw action in Concordia’s 25-15, 25-11, 25-8 thrashing of Bethany College in Saturday’s season opener inside Walz Arena. Nine different Bulldogs powered down at least one kill with sophomore Annie Friesen’s nine kills leading the way. Friesen and fellow middle Taylor Workman combined for 15 kills on just 18 attempts. As a team, Concordia hit a sizzling .522 while holding the Swedes to a -.016 clip. The Bulldogs heated up to percentages of .789 in the second set and .600 in the third set.
In the rankings
Concordia is receiving votes in the NAIA national coaches’ poll. The Bulldogs appeared 12th among “others receiving votes” in the preseason rankings released on Aug. 18. They were pegged fifth in the GPAC by league coaches.
This week’s opponents received the following rankings in their respective preseason conference polls:
--Bellevue – 3rd in North Star Athletic Association
--Roosevelt – not ranked (Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference)
--Saint Francis – 3rd in Crossroads League
--Saint Xavier – 4th in Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference
--Trinity Christian – 3rd in Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference
The win over Bethany marked Concordia’s 16th over its last 18 home matches, dating back to Oct. 8, 2013. Eleven of the 16 wins have ended in the minimum three sets. The Bulldogs won 12-consecutive home matches between Oct. 8, 2013 and Oct. 10, 2014, before finally falling in Seward at the hands of Nebraska Wesleyan on Oct. 21, 2014. Over their past 18 home tilts, the Bulldogs have dropped a total of just 11 sets.
Mattera climbs above .500
Now in his fourth season as head coach, Scott Mattera has guided a program that his steadily improved under his watch. After posting a record of 10-21 in 2012, Concordia jumped to 17-14 in 2013 and then 20-12 last season. With Saturday’s win over Bethany, Mattera bumped his overall record to 48-47 (.505) since arriving at Concordia. It was a season for “first time since” mentions in 2014 as the Bulldogs won 20 matches and defeated a ranked opponent (three times) for the first time since 2007 and won a GPAC tournament contest for the first time in six years.
Spread the sugar
In the season-opening win, five different Bulldogs amassed four or more kills. Friesen’s team high nine kills were followed closely by eight from Claire White, seven from Paige Getz and six from Workman. Concordia returned 83.5 percent of its kills from the 2014 season. Facilitating the attack was junior setter Alayna Kavanaugh, who assisted on 35 of the team’s 42 kills versus Bethany. She also added four kills of her own on four attempts. Freshman Jenna Habegger entered the match in the third set and capitalized on both of her swings from the middle. White and Getz have both nailed more than 300 kills in each of the last two seasons.
A well-established power in the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference, Bellevue has transitioned to the North Star Athletic Association under head coach Trish Siedlik, now in her 10th season as leader of the Bruins. Siedlik owns a career record of 398-121, including a 274-100 mark with Bellevue. The Bruins recently returned from a trip to La Mirada, Calif., where they went 1-3 while playing against three teams that are either nationally ranked or receiving votes. Bellevue opened the campaign with a 25-19, 23-25, 25-17, 25-21 win over No. 23 Lewis-Clark State College (Idaho) on Aug. 20. Through four matches, five different Bruins have 22 or more kills, topped by sophomore Rachel Wald’s 37. Bellevue is coming off a 22-20 record in 2014. In last season’s meeting with Concordia, the Bruins won 21-25, 25-19, 25-22, 15-25, 16-14.
Windy City rundown
All four of Concordia’s weekend opponents in the Windy City call the state of Illinois home. On Friday, the Bulldogs will take on both Roosevelt University (0-0) and Saint Xavier University (1-1) on the Saint Xavier campus. Then on Saturday Concordia will shift to Trinity Christian College (1-3) to play the University of Saint Francis (0-0) and Trinity Christian. Last season Trinity Christian topped the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference with a regular-season league mark of 15-3.
Roosevelt University: 22-17
University of Saint Francis: 26-15
Saint Xavier University: 24-16
Trinity Christian College: 38-10