Kavanaugh, White heroic in downing No. 19 Hastings

By on Sep. 9, 2015 in Volleyball

Kavanaugh, White heroic in downing No. 19 Hastings

SEWARD, Neb. – Up against the GPAC’s premier blocking team, Concordia junior Alayna Kavanaugh surfaced with the most significant denial of the night. Sliding over from her spot on right side of the front row, Kavanaugh threw up a wall for match point. The play sent a vibrant blackout Walz crowd home happy as the Bulldogs rode a wave of early momentum to a 25-19, 25-13, 27-25 victory over No. 19 Hastings on Wednesday night to open up the conference season.

The contest marked Concordia’s third-straight home meeting with the perennially strong Bronco program that resulted in a win. Fourth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad moved to 9-1, 1-0 GPAC on the year and 20-3 over its last 23 home matches.

“We played as well as we’re probably capable of right now in those first two games,” Mattera said. “We talked about it in the break though, Hastings is a good team. They’re really good. They’re top 20 for a reason. We knew they would come out in the third and play better, and they did.

“We had to fight back in that third and I thought we showed a lot of heart with that.”

After a rough second set for the visitors, the Broncos (7-3, 0-1 GPAC) held leads of 14-11 and 23-21 in the third game. Enter senior Claire White. Making her return after sitting out on Saturday, White pounded point Nos. 23, 25 and 26 of the third set to prep the stage for Kavanaugh’s massive block. Said Mattera, “That might be the best block in my four years here.”

Kavanaugh slid to the floor after recording her only block of the night. Her teammates quickly surrounded her in jubilation as the crowd roared.

The highlight play completed an impressive performance against a Hastings squad that had already defeated three top 25 opponents this season. The Bulldogs outhit the Broncos, .296 – .107 and crushed 14 more kills (44-30).

Captained by Kavanaugh at setter, Concordia effectively hit around the GPAC’s leading blocking team for most of the night. Kavanaugh dished out 35 assists with many peppered in the direction of White and fellow outside hitter Paige Getz.

White finished with a match high 16 kills (six in the third set) while hitting a dazzling .481. Getz backed her with 12 kills on 29 attempts. Tiegen Skains also had a productive outing from the right side – eight kills and a .438 hitting percentage.

“Everybody had an on night tonight,” White said. “It’s really awesome to see what happens when we’re all playing well together like that.”

Concordia really got rolling in the second set when it demoralized Hastings with eight-straight points that brought the crowd into a frenzy. Concordia led 22-10 at one point and hit .423 for the set. The stanza included plenty of crowd-pleasing floor burners, particularly from White, who had six of her kills during the second set.

Hastings finally found some traction in the third set when Sage Meyer’s kill off an overpass provided a 6-3 Bronco advantage and forced a Bulldog timeout. That momentum eventually ran dry. Meyer ended up with more errors (nine) than kills (eight).

Defensively, Jocelyn Garcia led the way with 17 digs. She also added two aces and did not make a single error on serve receive. The Bulldogs had only one reception error the entire evening.

Concordia has now won three of the past four meetings overall with Hastings. Prior to that stretch, the Broncos had won 13-straight contests against the Bulldogs.

White and company felt like they had something to prove in the latest win over their conference rival. Concordia had moved back one spot in this week's official GPAC rankings.

Said White, “I think that motivated us a lot.”

Concordia returns to nonconference action at this weekend’s Hastings College Classic. On Friday the Bulldogs will take on MidAmerica Nazarene University (Kan.) (7-5) at 1 p.m. and then Montana Western University (3-4) at 5 p.m. Concordia will also play two more neutral matches in Hastings on Saturday.