Sharp performance pushes win streak to four

By Jacob Knabel on Oct. 29, 2020 in Volleyball

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University Volleyball team is enjoying this final home stretch of the regular season. The Bulldogs were crisp on Wednesday (Oct. 28) while defeating College of Saint Mary for the second time in nine days. This matchup lasted just over an hour and saw Concordia take it in straight sets, 25-21, 25-13, 25-13, in the third of four-straight outings inside Walz Arena.

Third-year Head Coach Ben Boldt’s squad moved to 11-3 inside the GPAC and has guaranteed it will place no lower than a tie for third in the final conference regular-season standings.

“Every GPAC win is a special thing and we’re not taking it for granted,” Boldt said. “We have to get refocused and get back at it tomorrow … We hit really well. It was nice to see some people be efficient and have no fear. We talk about faith over fear. Let’s go up and rip it.”

You can’t rip it much better than the Bulldogs did in the second set when they hammered 17 kills against just two errors. In that set, Arleigh Costello, Camryn Opfer and Kara Stark each put away four kills. A senior from Frisco, Texas, Stark has found a groove on the outside. She collected a match high 12 kills on Wednesday, four days after she pulverized 15 kills in the win over Morningside.

College of Saint Mary (7-9, 2-9 GPAC) could not got out of its rut. It has lost eight matches in a row. The Flames exhausted their two timeouts quickly in both the second and third sets while trying to contain the blazing Bulldogs. CSM, led by the seven kills of Kamryn Willman, owned a 10-9 lead in the third set before a 10-1 Concordia run just about put this one on ice.

Balance has been a theme throughout the season for the Bulldogs. Five Concordia hitters posted six or more kills in the win: Stark (12), Costello (eight), Opfer (seven), Kalee Wiltfong (seven) and Gabi Nordaker (six). Senior setter Tara Callahan (36 assists) directed the attack that outhit the Flames, .293 to .060.

Said Nordaker, “This team is a lot different from my past teams. We really get along. One of our core values is connected – and we really worked hard on that during preseason. It’s really transitioned into our season. We all get along perfectly. I think that really translates on the court.”

Nordaker and Opfer (11 digs and three aces) both added a pair of blocks. In the back row, Marissa Hoerman chipped in with eight digs. Tatum Kuti also dropped in three aces.

As Boldt will tell people, the back row for Concordia deserves some love. Said Boldt, “We’re really proud of the work our senior group has put in with Tristin (Mason) and Marissa in the back row. That allows us to play in system in the front row. When you have that, you can have balance.”

The Bulldogs have improved to 6-0 against in-state GPAC opponents this season. Concordia has earned regular-season sweeps of College of Saint Mary and Midland and now will have the opportunity to pick up a second victory over Doane. The Bulldogs and Tigers (4-9, 2-9 GPAC) will meet at 7:30 p.m. CT inside Walz on Thursday. Concordia took the first matchup in straight sets back on Sept. 16 in Crete.