GPAC win eludes Concordia in home tussle

By Jacob Knabel on Oct. 6, 2017 in Volleyball

SEWARD, Neb. – That elusive conference victory has been put on hold for at least five more days for the Concordia University volleyball team. Its eighth match this season against a nationally-ranked opponent went the same as the first seven. No. 23 Doane left Walz Arena with a 25-21, 25-18, 25-22 victory on Friday evening.

An extended drought has slumped the records of sixth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad to 5-14 overall and to 0-9 in league play. On this night, there were moments that provided glimmers of hope. Mattera is hoping to bottle them up.

“A new season started on Monday,” Mattera said. “We’ve got a whole new mindset. All of our goals are still ahead of us even though we dropped tonight. There were some really good things. Our offense was really clicking when we serve received. We need just a little bit more discipline, but there were a lot of really good things.”

One of the bright spots for the Bulldogs on jersey night at Walz was junior Jenna Habegger. Her ninth kill of the evening gave Concordia a 4-0 lead out of the chute in the third set. Those positive vibes were short lived. The Tigers (12-9, 4-5 GPAC) responded by rattling off the next six points on their way to making it an early night. Doane outhit the Bulldogs, .294 to .229.

The Bulldogs tried to make it work while playing a bit short handed in the back row. Mattera was forced to shuffle the deck once again due to libero Marissa Hoerman being sidelined by injury. Sophomore Harlie Himmelberg wore the pink jersey on Friday and produced 14 digs. Concordia had just one fewer dig (38-37) than the visitors from Crete.

“Jenna Eller hasn’t played middle back in a long time and we put her in that position,” Mattera said. “Alex (La Plant) and Courtney (Jurgens) played middle back for the first time in a long time and did pretty well. And it was Harlie’s first time in the libero jersey. Fourteen digs. We’ll take that out of her. There’s a lot to like on this but when you watch the video, there’s going to be a lot of crucial mistakes at crucial times.”

Allison Kuenle paced the Tigers with 14 kills on 31 swings. Match highs were turned in by teammates Alex Neff (35 assists) and Erin Warren (17 digs). Doane has now won three matches in a row.

Habegger and Anna Lund equaled a team high with 10 kills apiece while La Plant floored eight kills. Freshman Tara Callahan contributed 33 assists. Sophomore Emmie Noyd was in on all four of the team’s blocks.

The Bulldogs will have the remainder of the weekend off before next week’s grueling pair of road trips. Next up, Concordia will be at No. 4 Hastings (15-1, 7-1 GPAC) on Wednesday (Oct. 11) for a 7:30 p.m. CT match. The two sides met inside Walz Arena back on Sept. 20 in a contest that resulted in a straight sets win for the Broncos.