SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University volleyball team made itself cozy once again inside Walz Arena. The Bulldogs dispatched of visiting Dakota Wesleyan in four sets, 25-16, 25-22, 23-25, 25-13, on homecoming Saturday to run their home winning streak to 11. A brief lapse cost Concordia the third set, but it rebounded with a dominant fourth game in which it hit .522 to close out the victory.
The win bumped the Bulldogs’ records to 13-7 overall and 5-3 in conference action. Third-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad currently sits in fourth place in the GPAC.
“Every team in the GPAC has the potential to win on any given day,” Mattera said. “I got in their grill a little between three and four. I’m really proud of the way they responded. I thought game 4 was pretty.”
Concordia ended up hitting .333 on the afternoon, marking its third highest attack percentage this season. Red-hot sophomore setter Alayna Kavanaugh dished out 49 more assists while going for a career best nine kills. She paved the way for a match-high 21 kills for junior outside hitter Claire White.
“We really have six girls on the court all the time that can do anything we ask them to do,” White said. “Our offense is really, really coming together. Even on our off days, we’re still doing good things. Our hitters are going to keep working and keep our offense strong.”
While the offensive attack remained efficient, Mattera liked what his team did defensively as well. Concordia may have finished with only five blocks, but it dug out nearly half of the Tiger attacks, making Dakota Wesleyan earn any points it got.
“We were getting a lot of touches (at the net) that allowed our defense to play really well behind us,” Mattera said. “We had 43 digs. That’s a huge number with them having 100 attacks. That tells us our blocks are in the right place and we’re forcing them to do what we want them to do.”
Just like its kill numbers, the Bulldog dig totals were spread amongst many individuals. Senior Carli Smith led the way with 16 digs, while budding freshman Jocelyn Garcia came in next with eight digs.
After a too-close-for-comfort triumph in game 2, Dakota Wesleyan again hung tight in a third set that it ultimately won. The Tigers rattled off the final six points in the set to come back from a 23-19 deficit. The fourth set could not have been more different. White and the Bulldogs made it look easy the rest of the way.
“Set 4 was just a pretty set all the way around,” Mattera said. “We were passing well and our serve game was fantastic. I was actually worried we were too aggressive. It thought we were going to miss a few of those.
“But our serve game was great. We got a few blocks there. Our transition game was solid and we were mixing it up. That’s what we look like when we’re on.”
Coming off a career high 63 assists in Thursday’s loss at College of Saint Mary, Kavanaugh helped three Bulldogs reach double figures in kills on Saturday. Paige Getz hit .400 on the outside and totaled 12 kills. Middle Mariah Schamp came up with 11 kills and two blocks. Freshman middle Annie Friesen produced five kills – several coming on emphatic finishes at the net.
The Tigers were led by their season kills leader Lauren Tadlock, who added 13 more kills to her total on Saturday. Mallory Jark posted four block assists in the middle.