GPAC in-state foes to visit Walz this week

By Jacob Knabel on Oct. 26, 2020 in Volleyball

SEWARD, Neb. – The home stand continues for the Concordia University Volleyball program, which enters the week with a three-match win streak. Just three matches remain in the 2020 regular season as the Bulldogs near the finish line in terms of GPAC play. Head Coach Ben Boldt’s squad looks forward to hosting College of Saint Mary on Wednesday and Doane on Thursday. It will mark the third time this season that Concordia has played in back-to-back days.

This Week

Wednesday, Oct. 28 vs. College of Saint Mary (7-8, 2-8 GPAC), 7:30 p.m.
-Live Webcast/Stats | 104.9 Max Country

Thursday, Oct. 29 vs. Doane (4-8, 2-8 GPAC), 7:30 p.m.
-Live Webcast/Stats | 104.9 Max Country

After defeating College of Saint Mary, Briar Cliff and Morningside last week, the Bulldogs (10-3 GPAC) have the inside track on the No. 3 spot in the GPAC standings. Concordia currently looks up in the standings at Jamestown (10-0) and Northwestern (10-1). Mathematically, three teams with five league losses also still have a shot at finishing top three: Dordt (10-5), Midland (5-5) and Hastings (3-5). With 10 conference wins, the Bulldogs need to win out in order to set a new program record for most GPAC victories in a single season (the 2015 team went 12-4).

Another rare feat is still attainable for this 2020 Concordia edition. Since the GPAC went to a 16-match conference regular season in 2002, the Bulldogs have never gone unbeaten against their in-state GPAC rivals. So far this season, Concordia is 5-0 versus the state of Nebraska having beaten Midland twice and College of Saint Mary, Doane and Hastings once apiece. The Bulldogs will be on the hunt for season sweeps of the latter three foes.

From an individual perspective, senior Kara Stark enjoyed a big week in collecting 34 combined kills over last week’s three victories. On senior day on Oct. 24, Stark equaled a career best for a three-set match while pounding 15 kills (.519 hitting percentage). Other leaders over last week’s action included Tara Callahan (117 assists), Marissa Hoerman (48 digs and seven aces) and Gabi Nordaker (14 blocks). In display of the team’s balance, five Concordia players have reached the 100-kill mark on the season: Nordaker (119), Stark (114), Arleigh Costello (109), Camryn Opfer (108) and Kalee Wiltfong (102).

Wednesday’s clash with College of Saint Mary will be the second meeting in a nine-day period. Concordia outhit the Flames, .275 to .197, in the matchup that took place in Omaha on Oct. 20. CSM will carry a seven-match losing streak into Walz. However, the Flames had a close battle (five sets) at home against Dordt this past weekend. The most recent victory for CSM came on Sept. 19 versus Dakota State University. Last season the Flames reached the GPAC tournament championship match and finished ranked 23rd in the NAIA.

Doane ended an eight-match skid this past weekend by outlasting Dakota Wesleyan in five sets. The Tigers got a big outing from outside hitter Gabby Menghini (14 kills on 26 swings) in the win. First-year Head Coach Jenna Jones’ squad will be fighting for its GPAC postseason hopes down the stretch. Doane is currently tied with College of Saint Mary for 10th place in the conference standings. The Tigers have made seven national tournament appearances during the GPAC era.

The Bulldogs are slated to finish the regular season next Tuesday (Nov. 3) at Hastings (4-6, 3-5 GPAC). As announced earlier this fall, the GPAC tournament will not be played until the spring semester. Dates for the conference postseason event are yet to be announced. The NAIA Volleyball National Championship has been rescheduled and is set to begin on April 17, 2021, with the opening round.

Concordia Volleyball, most conference wins (GPAC era)
12-4 | 2015
11-5 | 2019
10-3 | 2020
10-6 | 2014
*The 2000 team that shared the GPAC regular-season title went 9-1 in conference play.

Program rankings
-Tara Callahan – ranks third in program history for career assists (3,235)
-Marissa Hoerman – ranks fifth in program history for career digs (1,229)

Fast track to 50
With the win over Morningside this past Saturday, Ben Boldt picked up career victory No. 50 since taking over the program prior to the start of the 2018 season. Boldt is now 50-23 as head coach of the Bulldogs. The program’s all-time winningest coach is Vicki Boye, who went 167-136 from 1989 through 1995. Of the program’s all-time head coaches with 50 or more victories, Boldt’s winning percentage of .685 ranks No. 1.

Concordia volleyball coaches with 50+ wins
Vicki Boye – 167-136
Rachel Miller – 107-125
Scott Mattera – 97-94
Diane Mendenhall – 89-54
Ben Boldt – 50-23
*Berniece Jones also had more than 50 wins, but her specific career record has not been archived.

Bulldogs 5-0 vs. in-state opponents
9/9 at Midland | W, 3-0
9/16 at Doane | W, 3-0
9/19 vs. Hastings | W, 3-0
9/30 vs. Midland | W, 3-1
10/20 at College of Saint Mary | W, 3-1
*The 2019 team went 9-2 versus Nebraska opponents (including nonconference wins over York College and Peru State College); the lone losses came at the hands of Midland and Hastings.

Massey Ratings
The GPAC continues to rank highly in Massey Ratings, the only ratings system publicly available this fall. The NAIA has chosen to unveil the first official NAIA top 25 poll of 2020-21 on Nov. 18. Based on the current Massey Ratings, there are four GPAC teams ranked in the top six of the NAIA: No. 1 Jamestown, No. 2 Northwestern, No. 5 Concordia and No. 6 Dordt. The ratings system does include teams that have not yet played in 2020.