CRETE, Neb. – An impressive second set flurry provided hopes of a road upset, but the Concordia University volleyball team failed to sustain it. Ultimately, No. 16 Doane claimed a 25-17, 18-25, 25-19, 25-17 win in its first home appearance of 2017. It was the second GPAC contest for both sides on Wednesday.
Sixth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad returned to action for the first time since a straight sets loss at No. 9 Midland on Sept. 6. The Bulldogs dipped to 5-7 overall and 0-2 in conference play.
“There’s no putting a dress on this pig,” Mattera said. “We just got outplayed and outcoached. Again we showed flashes of greatness but we just weren’t consistent enough or tough minded enough to sustain it. The positive is that we are absolutely still together and willing to battle through these growing pains. We are going to work harder, get tougher and get better.”
In a notable effort, senior libero Jocelyn Garcia eclipsed 1,500 career digs by adding 22 more (plus 24 service receptions) on Wednesday night. She also dropped in four of the team’s service aces. A first team all-conference selection in 2015, Garcia helped limit the Tigers to a .150 hitting percentage.
Garcia and company put together a strong performance in the second set. With the game knotted at 10-10, the Bulldogs went on a 10-1 run to take control. Sophomore Alex La Plant hammered one of her team high 12 kills for set point in the second. That momentum appeared to spill over into the third set. A second Garcia ace in three attempts made it 5-2, forcing a Doane timeout.
The Tigers (9-4, 1-1 GPAC) came back, but not because any single hitter sizzled offensively. Alexis Dale contributed to nine of the team’s 14 blocks (compared to five for Concordia). On the attack, Maci Coffey (12 kills) and Allison Kuenle (11 kills) were the leaders for Doane, whose only losses this season have come against squads with top 10 national rankings.
Junior Jenna Habegger (10 kills) joined La Plant in double figures for kills. Emmie Noyd returned to the court in the middle and tallied five kills. Freshman setter Tara Callahan added 31 assists and seven digs.
The Bulldogs will return to Walz Arena for their eighth home match of the season when 16th-ranked Northwestern (14-1, 1-0 GPAC) visits Seward. Concordia has won four of its first seven contests at home. The Red Raiders will bring the nation’s top hitting percentage into action.