Skains sizzles as Concordia pushes win streak to six

By Jacob Knabel on Sep. 9, 2016 in Volleyball

HASTINGS, Neb. – For the second-straight outing, the Concordia University volleyball team turned the match around with a furious third-set rally. In Friday night’s tilt, the Bulldogs erased a seven-point deficit in the third set and then held off Missouri Valley College as part of a 25-22, 18-25, 25-22, 25-22, victory inside Lynn Farrell Arena on the Hastings College campus.

The Bulldogs have been rolling since returning from their Montana trip. They’re now 7-6 overall and riding a six-match win streak. The latest victory may be their most impressive with it coming over a Viking squad that entered the match with a sparkling 11-1 record.

“It’s one of those things where you don’t know whether to hug them for coming back or shake them for getting down that far,” said fifth-year head coach Scott Mattera of the third set. “That’s twice in a row that we’ve done that. I guess it shows that we can do it. That’s the positive we’re going to take from that. It’s living dangerously. Missouri Valley was 11-1 for a reason. I’m happy to get the win.”

Skains had the fastball working on Friday. Some across-net-banter helped fuel the native of Colorado Springs, who hammered 13 kills on 31 swings. It was the perfect capper when setter Alayna Kavanaugh found Skains for match point to put away a Viking team that made a comeback effort of its own in the fourth set.

When she’s right, Skains is scary good.

“Everyone was just kind of fired up and that’s when I play my best,” Skains said. “Everyone was having fun. We were playing loose and hitting the ball.”

A rash of attack errors plagued Missouri Valley after it had built a 21-14 lead in the third set. The Bulldogs rattled off eight-straight points and took a 22-21 advantage via a block from Kavanaugh and Taylor Workman. Concordia clinched the set with points 24 and 25 coming courtesy of a Naomi Quigg ace and Kavanaugh kill.

That momentum carried into the night’s final set as the Bulldogs jumped out to leads of 15-9 and 21-15 before withstanding the late push from the Vikings. Missouri Valley, which hit .158 for the match, followed up a red-hot .344 second-set hitting percentage with clips of .083 and .135, respectively, over the final two sets. Defensive specialist Jocelyn Garcia again had a fine night in the back row, piling up 23 digs.

On paper, this was Concordia’s most impressive win of the season. The Vikings’ only previous loss on the season came at the hands of Park University (Mo.), a team ranked No. 7 in this week’s NAIA coaches’ poll.

“I think we’re pretty good,” Mattera said. “I like the mentality of this team. I like the talent. I don’t know where that top end is. That’s a good thing because I think we can get so much better than what we are right now. But it’s definitely a different team than it was about 10 days ago.”

Two other Bulldogs joined Skains with double-figure kill totals: Paige Getz (10) and Workman (10). Kavanaugh also contributed seven kills in addition to 31 assists. Concordia notched seven aces from five different players. On the other side of the net, Dakota Santore totaled a match high 20 kills, though she also committed 16 attack errors.

The Bulldogs will play twice more in Hastings on Saturday with nonconference matches versus the University of Montana Western (4-4) at 12 p.m. and No. 8 MidAmerica Nazarene University (Kan.) (10-3) at 4 p.m. Concordia will attempt to lock up its first victory of the season over a top-25 opponent.