Sixth-ranked Bulldogs hit .352, sweep season opener

By Jacob Knabel on Aug. 25, 2021 in Volleyball

SEWARD, Neb. – A significant home crowd greeted the sixth-ranked Concordia University Volleyball team, fresh off an NAIA national quarterfinal appearance back in the spring. On the attack, the likes of Camryn Opfer and Sara Huss led the way as the Bulldogs got in the win column in their season opener on Wednesday (Aug. 25). Concordia hit .352 on the night and took care of Mount Marty in straight sets, 25-19, 25-12, 25-18.

With the bulk of its power hitters returning from last season, the Bulldogs expect to own the net in the majority of their matches. Head Coach Ben Boldt saw plenty of promising signs as he began his fourth season leading the program.

“I was really glad to see our hitting numbers,” Boldt said. “We were pretty efficient tonight. I thought we made good decisions … It’s fun to see the new ones out there. They’re coming along. The experience they get here is really going to serve them well. It’s fun to see them grow in that whole process.

“We’re going to continue to focus on our core values. I always look at blocking right off the bat. We’re definitely going to have to be sharp on our team defense and making sure we have our hands in the right spot at the right times.”

If Wednesday was any indication, Concordia figures to feature plenty of balance once again. In the kill department, Opfer paced both teams with 11 kills on 25 swings (.320 hitting percentage). She was followed in that category by Huss (10), Shelby Stark (eight), Arleigh Costello (five) and Gabi Nordaker (five). In the first match of her fifth collegiate season, Tara Callahan totaled 32 assists and 10 digs.

On the flip side, the Bulldogs limited the Lancers (0-1) to an .065 hitting percentage. Concordia is working on filling the shoes of four-year libero Marissa Hoerman. Opfer equaled Callahan with 10 digs of her own. Other contributors in the back row included Kennedy VanScoy (six digs) and Tatum Kuti (five digs). A total of 13 Bulldogs saw action on the night.

As a second-year player, Huss has made big strides and looks to provide another weapon in the middle, along with Gabi Nordaker. A second team All-GPAC honoree in 2020, Nordaker topped Concordia with five blocks on Wednesday. One of those blocks put the finishing touches on a dominant second set.

Mount Marty’s losing streak within the conference continues. The Lancers got a team high six kills from Gabby Ruth. They provided some resistance in the third set, playing to a 14-14 draw before the Bulldogs rattled off five-straight points. The run culminated with back-to-back Opfer kills. Mount Marty managed only 25 kills, compared to 43 from the home team.

Concordia will remain at home this weekend and host the Bulldog Bash on Saturday. The Bulldogs will take on Baker University (Kan.) and No. 12 Bellevue University as part of a triangular. Match times are 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. CT.