Top-ranked Midland invades Walz on Wednesday

By Jacob Knabel on Oct. 11, 2016 in Volleyball

SEWARD, Neb. – According to Massey Ratings, the Concordia University volleyball team has played the 16th most challenging schedule among the 217 volleyball programs in the NAIA. That strength of schedule number figures to move higher after the Bulldogs complete this week’s slate, which includes Wednesday’s 7:30 p.m. CT home match with No. 1 Midland (18-1, 8-1 GPAC) and Saturday’s 5 p.m. contest at No. 11 Dordt (13-5, 6-2 GPAC).

Based on the most recent poll, fifth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad has already played teams ranked Nos. 1, 2, 3, 6, T-11, T-11, 15, 17, 20 and 25. While the Bulldogs have dipped below .500 at 11-13 overall and 3-5 in conference play, Mattera hopes his team is regaining its health for a late-season push.

As it stands right now, Concordia sits in seventh place in a conference that features an eight-team postseason bracket. The Bulldogs are still trying to recapture the magic they had last season when they tied for fourth in the conference and advanced to the GPAC tournament championship match and then the national tournament.

It will take a spirited effort to upset Midland on Wednesday inside what Concordia expects to be a hyper-charged Walz Arena. The Warriors are a perfect 14-0 away from home this season. They’re a powerful team that sports impressive national ranks: fifth in kills per game (13.9) and 11th in hitting percentage (.258). Head coach Paul Giesselmann’s biggest star is middle Priscilla O’Dowd, who ranks fifth nationally with a .394 hitting percentage.

Concordia and Midland opened up their GPAC schedules against each other on Aug. 31 in Fremont. The Warriors hit .327 and won, 25-21, 25-21, 25-19. O’Dowd went wild for 15 kills on 25 swings. The Bulldogs were topped by nine kills from Paige Getz.

Saturday will also mark the second meeting of this season between the Bulldogs and the Defenders. Dordt also features a dominant middle in Brooke Granstra, who averages 4.1 kills per game and has hit .365 for a Defender squad that pushed No. 2 Westmont College (Calif.) to five sets last week. Dordt came to Seward and won, 25-18, 25-17, 25-22, on Sept. 24.

Getz should easily climb to No. 4 on the program’s all-time kills list this week. Last week she moved ahead of Darcy Lindner (1,204) for fifth place. With 1,219 kills over her four-year Bulldog career, the native of Paola, Kan., needs just five more to move in front of Renae Beikmann (1,223). The top three on the list are Becky Ernstmeyer (1,740), Katie Werner (1,600) and Rachel Kirchner (1,315).

Three Bulldogs rank among the top five GPAC players in major statistical categories. Jenna Eller is No. 1 in aces per game (0.6), Jocelyn Garcia ranks third in digs per game (5.1) and Alayna Kavanaugh checks in at No. 3 in assists per game (10.1).

Wednesday’s match will be carried live by the Concordia Sports Network. Frank Greene will call the action for 104.9 Max Country.