SEWARD, Neb. – Matched against a powerful Dordt front row, the Concordia University volleyball team answered with a monster afternoon from sophomore Tiegen Skains. Just as it appeared that the 21st-ranked Defenders’ length up front would be too much, the Bulldogs stormed back for a thrilling home win, 25-19, 18-25, 17-25, 25-22, 15-9, inside Walz Arena on Saturday.
The victory put a bow on a weekend that also included a five-set home triumph over Briar Cliff on Friday night. Now 9-1 this season at Walz, the Bulldogs improved to 17-9 overall and 8-5 in conference play, moving them into a third-place tie with Dordt (14-10, 8-5 GPAC).
“In games 2 and 3 we were getting frustrated. You could see it,” head coach Scott Mattera said. “But we weren’t playing that bad. Dordt’s a great team. They stepped up their game.
“You saw it tonight why we’re willing to miss serves to go big. When we just popped them in, they ran it down our throats.”
While a more aggressive service approach paid off in the fourth and fifth sets, the work of Skains shined most brightly. Just how clutch was the Colorado Springs native? Five of her career and match high 20 kills came in a big-time game 5 performance.
“Tiegen was awesome,” Mattera said. “Twenty kills from the right side – that is an incredible match.”
Skains hammered down point Nos. 1, 4, 10, 11 and 13 in serving as a personal wrecking crew in the fifth set. Faced off with some of conference’s most imposing blockers, Skains figured out how to hit over, around and through them.
“Alayna (Kavanaugh) did a really good job of setting everybody to keep their blockers honest so no one could sit on one hitter,” Skains said. “I played with confidence and I wanted my teammates to get the ball too. If it came to me, I would do my best. Alayna did a really good job setting tonight.”
Kavanaugh did her part in the game 5 that saw her post six assists, two kills and an ace. Concordia ultimately celebrated the win when a Dordt attack sailed into the net, completing a rally from a 2-1 deficit after three sets.
The Bulldogs got back on track in the fourth set, hitting .333 and racking up 18 kills. Skains needed only seven swings to post six kills and Paige Getz came alive with six of her 10 kills during the fourth game. A cut on the hand did not bother Kavanaugh, who divvied out 15 of her 46 assists during this stretch that marked a complete reversal from the previous two sets.
“I think we just said, ‘what do we have to lose?’” Skains said. “This was not a game we were expected to win by any means. I think we just came out and played confident and played hard for each other.”
There were moments during the second set in which it seemed as though the Bulldogs were hitting straight into a brick wall. Towering 6-foot-5 Haley Moss totaled 13 blocks on the day with four coming during a dominating second-set performance. In addition, she put away six of her 14 kills during the run.
The Defenders also got solid production from their other front row stalwarts in 6-foot Jenna Horstman (10 kills, three blocks) and 5-foot-11 Brooke Wolterstorff (16 kills, four blocks). Dordt outhit Concordia by a slight .225 to .203 margin.
Junior Claire White came up with another nice all-around game, contributing 13 kills, 10 digs and an ace. Senior Carli Smith notched 13 digs and freshman Jocelyn Garcia added 12. In the middle, freshman Annie Friesen (four kills, five blocks) and senior Mariah Schamp (nine kills, four blocks) combined for 6.5 total blocks. With her nine kills, Schamp eclipsed 800 for her career (now at 806).
Concordia now owns three wins over ranked opponents: No. 14 Oklahoma Baptist (Sept. 5), No. 18 Hastings (Sept. 24) and No. 21 Dordt.
The Bulldogs dip outside of conference action for the final time during the regular season when they play at Bellevue University (19-16) at 7 p.m. on Tuesday. The two teams last met on Sept. 1, 2012, when the then No. 19-ranked Bruins won in straight sets. Bellevue currently sits atop the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference with a league mark of 5-0.