Season revs up with four-match week

By Jacob Knabel on Aug. 22, 2017 in Volleyball

SEWARD, Neb. – A stretch of four matches in four days awaits the Concordia volleyball team, which opened up its 2017 season last weekend with a straight sets home loss at the hands of Baker University. The Bulldogs will be back in front of their fans on Wednesday night to host Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference member Bethany College. Head coach Scott Mattera’s squad will then look forward to the Viking Invitational and a weekend trip to Marshall, Mo., home to Missouri Valley College.

This week’s schedule
Aug. 23 – vs. Bethany College, 7:30 p.m.
Viking Invitational (Marshall, Mo.)
Aug. 25 – vs. Ottawa University, 3 p.m.
Aug. 25 – at Missouri Valley College, 7 p.m.
Aug. 26 – vs. Avila University, 2 p.m.

Bethany will be the first of two KCAC opponents for Concordia. The Bulldogs want to show that they’ve learned from the mistakes that were made in the season opening defeat. They will contend with 2016 KCAC second team outside hitter Carli Vasholtz, who piled up 332 kills for a Swedes squad that finished 10-22 overall. Head coach Cheri Lindsay’s squad landed at No. 8 out of 12 teams in the KCAC preseason poll.

The KCAC favorite and defending league champion will serve as Friday’s first opponent at the Viking Invitational. Ottawa went a perfect 22-0 in KCAC regular-season play in 2016. The Braves, ranked just outside the top 25 in the NAIA preseason coaches’ poll, will be beginning their season at the weekend event. Concordia will end the day by taking on Heart of America Athletic Conference member Missouri Valley, a team it beat in four sets at the Hastings Invitational in 2016. Ottawa and Missouri Valley went a combined 59-18 last fall. The final opponent of the week, Avila, is another foe from the HAAC. The Eagles finished 12-17 in 2016.

Mattera is hopeful of a big leap forward from match No. 1 to No. 2. Players such as junior Kelsey Baarck (transfer from Mott CC) and freshmen Tara Callahan and Marissa Hoerman made their Bulldog debuts, senior Annie Friesen returned from ACL surgery and several returners are getting adjusted to increased roles. Sophomore Alex La Plant performed solidly last weekend, downing seven kills on 17 swings. Concordia will also soon get defensive specialist Jocelyn Garcia back on the court.

Following this weekend’s road trip, the Bulldogs will get comfortable at Walz Arena with five home matches in a row. The home stand begins when 20th-ranked Bellevue University visits Seward on Aug. 30.