Grueling stretch begins Wednesday for volleyball

By Jacob Knabel on Sep. 20, 2016 in Volleyball

Sept. 20 NAIA coaches’ poll

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University volleyball team enters this week having won nine of its last 10 matches. If the Bulldogs are to win nine of their NEXT 10 matches, well that would be something special. Of the upcoming 10 contests, eight are against current nationally-ranked teams and another one will see them take on a team receiving votes in the national poll.

Such is life in a conference that includes two of the top four squads in the NAIA, four total ranked teams and another three listed as receiving votes. One of those teams again receiving votes is Concordia, which has responded nicely from a 1-6 start to the season. Fifth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad is now 10-7 overall and 2-1 in conference play.

The Bulldogs are fresh off a wild, come-from-behind win over Morningside, but they remain in search of that signature victory over a top-25 opponent. This week provides opportunity to change that. Concordia will play at No. 17 Doane (12-4, 2-2 GPAC) at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday before hosting No. 9 Dordt (9-3, 2-1 GPAC) at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

The Bulldogs would love to duplicate their play from last year’s trip to Crete, where they held Doane to .035 hitting in a straight-sets victory. Concordia has won the last two times its ventured to Crete and has taken three of the last four in the series with the Tigers. Doane’s 2016 resume includes wins over four ranked opponents, with the highest being No. 14 Lourdes University (Ohio). Doane senior outside hitter Kaitlin Bradley smashes nearly four kills per game.

Dordt moved into the top 10 of the national poll this week. Its only losses have come at the hands of teams currently ranked in the top 20 nationally. The Defenders picked up a key nonconference win on Sept. 10 when it outlasted then No. 9 Grand View University (Iowa) in a five-set match. Known as a big, powerful team, Dordt ranks fourth in the NAIA in kills per game (13.8) and 12th in hitting percentage (.254).

On Tuesday, both Jocelyn Garcia and Alayna Kavanaugh picked up GPAC player of the week awards. Garcia, a junior defensive specialist, has garnered all three GPAC defensive player of the week honors handed out in 2016. Last week Kavanaugh surpassed 4,000 assists during a distinguished career that has seen her twice earn first team all-conference accolades. Kavanaugh has facilitated one of the top pin-hitting duos in the league in seniors Paige Getz and Tiegen Skains. Last week Getz hit over .300 from the outside while piling up 30 total kills.

Live webcasts will be available for both of this week’s matches. View Wednesday’s match at Doane HERE. The Concordia Sports Network will carry Saturday’s tilt with Dordt. Max Country (104.9 FM) will be present on Wednesday. Frank Greene will call the action.