ORANGE CITY, Iowa – There’s nothing easy about life on the road in the Great Plains Athletic Conference. The Bulldogs have lost six-straight sets to begin GPAC play away from Seward after dropping a 25-23, 25-23, 25-23 decision to Northwestern in Orange City, Iowa, on Friday night.
Concordia, now 3-8 overall and 0-3 in the GPAC, played Friday in its seventh match of the season against teams either ranked or receiving votes in the NAIA coaches’ poll. The Red Raiders (12-3, 2-0 GPAC), placed just outside the Top 25 in the latest rankings, got 10 kills in 24 attempts by Kaitlin Floerchinger and did just enough in each game to get by a Bulldog squad that is becoming more comfortable with their new style of play.
“We played fantastically well,” head coach Scott Mattera said. “I would call this the most complete match that we’ve played this season.”
Concordia competed evenly with Northwestern thanks to great play from its setters in sophomores Kayla James (14 assists) and Jami Nekoliczak (nine assists). The duo kept the Red Raider defense off balance by distributing the ball all over the court.
“Jami and Kayla played amazingly well,” Mattera said. “They spread the offense around. They really stepped it up tonight. The reason nobody had 10 kills was that we spread the ball around so well.”
Throw out the final set in Tuesday’s home opener in which Concordia was dominated 25-12 by No. 14 Doane, and the Bulldogs have lost five sets by an average of 2.2 points in their last two matches.
“We’re starting to become a more disciplined team. We’re playing with more synergy,” Mattera said. “We’re close to getting over that hump. We’ll get there.”
Concordia got eight kills apiece from sophomore Amanda Abbott and freshman Kelsey Dinkel. Senior outside hitter Amanda Kisker added seven kills, while sophomore defensive specialist Carli Smith, who came into play leading the GPAC with 4.9 digs/set, piled up nine more digs on Friday.
The Bulldogs get right back to action on Saturday at 1 p.m. when they play Dakota State University in Madison, S.D. The Trojans are 5-7 on the season after falling 20-25, 19-25, 25-17, 16-25 to Briar Cliff in their most recent match. Concordia returns home Sept. 22 when it welcomes Dakota Wesleyan into Walz Arena.