In-state matchups with Doane, Hastings up next

By Jacob Knabel on Sep. 13, 2021 in Volleyball

SEWARD, Neb. – The nonconference regular season slate is in the books for Concordia University Volleyball. The final 13 matches of the regular season will all involve GPAC opponents. The Bulldogs are getting set to host Doane on Wednesday and travel to Hastings on Saturday. Concordia (6-5, 1-2 GPAC) went a combined 3-0 against those two rivals last season.

This Week

Wednesday, Sept. 15 vs. Doane (12-3, 1-2 GPAC), 7:30 p.m.
--Webcast/Live Stats | 104.9 Max Country

Saturday, Sept. 18 at Hastings (11-4, 2-1 GPAC), 3 p.m.
--Webcast/Live Stats

Note for fans: Full capacity is allowed inside Friedrich Arena. Currently, face coverings are required for Concordia home matches. Advance tickets can be purchased online via the athletic department’s HomeTown Ticketing page. Hastings also has no capacity limits inside Lynn Farrell Arena.

This past weekend, Head Coach Ben Boldt’s squad completed a stretch of eight-straight matches against opponents that were either ranked or receiving votes nationally. The Bulldogs went 3-5 during that stretch with three of the defeats coming if five sets – versus No. 12 Bellevue University, No. 23 College of Saint Mary and Columbia College (Mo.) (receiving votes). Concordia’s three wins over top 25 teams came against No. 19 Oklahoma City University, No. 17 Montana Tech and No. 18 Ottawa University (Kan.). The Bulldogs went 2-2 last week in a run that included a win over Missouri Valley College and a loss to No. 3 Midland.

Outside hitter Camryn Opfer embraced the mantra of ‘Be the Woman’ in her performance against Columbia that resulted in a career high 23 kills. Eight of those kills came during an impressive spurt in the fourth set that allowed Concordia to force a fifth. Opfer finished the week with 56 total kills and a .266 hitting percentage. She also added 40 digs and five blocks. Opfer is the team leader on the season with 135 kills (.228 hitting percentage). She’s a two-time Second Team All-GPAC honoree.

Two-time Honorable Mention All-American Tara Callahan returned to being the primary setter last week (instead of a two-setter system) and responded with 150 assists over 14 sets. The attacking numbers were solid over the past week as the Bulldogs averaged 13.79 kills per set while hitting .246. Opfer and Gabi Nordaker (47 kills on the week) were often the beneficiaries of Callahan’s passing. Nordaker was particularly efficient this past Saturday when she hit better than .500 in the wins over both Ottawa and Missouri Valley. Overall this season, the Bulldogs sport NAIA national ranks of 14th in kills per set (13.57) and 17th in hitting percentage (.249).

Concordia has won each of the last six meetings with Doane. In her second season as head coach, Jenna Jones led the Tigers to an 8-0 start to begin this season. So far in conference play, the Tigers have lost to Hastings and No. 23 College of Saint Mary and earned a win over Mount Marty. The team’s top attacker has been Gabby Menghini, who has recorded 173 kills and is hitting .225. Nationally, Doane ranks fourth in digs per set (18.84), 21st in kills per set (13.12) and 51st in hitting percentage (.210).

The Bulldogs have beaten Hastings in two of the past three matchups. Hastings has defeated Doane and Mount Marty and endured a five-set defeat at College of Saint Mary. Head Coach Alexandra Allard is in her third season leading the program. The Broncos reached the national tournament as recently as 2018. Hastings has returned to players who were named Honorable Mention All-GPAC last season: Amani Monroe and Sydney Mullin. Nationally, the Broncos rank 43rd in kills per set (12.62), 46th in hitting percentage (.215) and 50th in blocks per set (1.87).

In next week’s action, Concordia will play at Mount Marty on Sept. 22 and then host College of Saint Mary on Sept. 25.