Injury-riddled Dogs go down fighting at No. 4 Hastings

By Jacob Knabel on Sep. 28, 2016 in Volleyball

HASTINGS, Neb. – A treacherous road trip was made even more challenging by the continued absences of key figures for the Concordia University volleyball team. Fourth-ranked Hastings cut right through the visiting Bulldogs, 25-11, 25-11, 22-25, 25-21, on Wednesday night. The Broncos bashed Concordia with an eye-popping .469 hitting percentage through the first two sets while pushing their winning streak to eight.

Fifth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad has dropped three-straight GPAC matches, all to teams ranked inside the top 20 of the national rankings. The Bulldogs are now 10-10 overall and 2-4 in conference play.

“We just were not in rhythm at all those first two games,” Mattera said in a postgame interview with 104.9 Max Country. “We switched back to something we were a little bit more comfortable with and we had a really good talk in the locker room. The easy choice was to mail it in in the third and say, ‘It’s not our night.’ That’s not who we are.”

Concordia showed grit by bouncing back after suffering lopsided defeats in the first and second sets. The Bulldogs finally figured out a way to contain the Bronco attack, which hit just .098 in the third game. Concordia put down only seven kills in the third, but scrapped and clawed to extend the match.

Senior Tiegen Skains, on the eve of her birthday, shined most brightly among Bulldog individuals. She floored 13 kills to equal Hastings’ Logan Dureppel for a match high. Skains hit .458 while working with freshman setter Emma Brand, who made her second-straight start in place of the injured Alayna Kavanaugh. Paige Getz also chipped in seven kills.

Drueppel needed only 25 swings to pile up her 13 kills. Sage Meyer put down 11 kills and Katie Placke hit .409 with 10 kills for the victors, whose only loss over their past 10 outings came at the hands of top-ranked Midland.

Hastings (14-2, 5-1 GPAC) ended up with an overall hitting percentage of .304 compared to a .099 clip for Concordia.

With the injuries mounting in the middle, Mattera rotated Mikayla Higgins in at that spot on Wednesday. Freshman middle Emmie Noyd missed her second-straight match, also due to injury.

The Bulldogs hope to get back on track on Saturday when they host Briar Cliff (8-7, 2-4 GPAC) for a 3 p.m. CT match (junior varsity at 1:30). The Chargers received votes in the most recent NAIA coaches’ poll.