SEWARD, Neb. – A typically potent offensive team, the Concordia University volleyball team got caught up in a defensive battle on Tuesday night inside Walz Arena. NCAA Division III’s No. 1-ranked blocking squad, Nebraska Wesleyan, snapped Concordia’s 12-match home win streak by holding the Bulldogs to a .174 hitting percentage. The 14th-ranked (NCAA Division III) Prairie Wolves won it, 25-19, 25-22, 18-25, 27-25.
Third-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad, which had not lost at home since a four-set defeat to Wesleyan on Oct. 1, 2013, fell to 15-9 overall and 6-5 in conference play. The Bulldogs remain in the thick of the race to host a GPAC tournament quarterfinal match, but Tuesday’s loss stung.
“We had a fantastic practice last night and we came in feeling pretty confident,” Mattera said. “We started off like gangbusters. I was completely baffled by our lack of energy in games 1 and 2. We came out hard and played really well in 3 and had every chance to win in 4. I thought we deserved 4, but that’s the way the ball goes sometimes.”
Junior Claire White tried to will the Bulldogs back in the fourth set. She hammered down kills for point Nos. 22, 24 and 25 after Concordia had fought back from a 22-19 deficit. The Bulldogs even served for set point, leading 25-24, but the Prairie Wolves put up three points in a row with match point coming on Heather Muller’s kill.
While Concordia fell into a lull after sprinting out to a 9-3 lead in the first set, it rode the big night of Mariah Schamp. She seemed to wake the team back up with her stellar work at the net. Schamp really got going in the second set when she notched six of her 13 kills as well as one of her career-high nine blocks. She floored a kill to get the Bulldogs within 24-22 in the second, but Wesleyan followed with the next point.
Tiegen Skains powered the attack in the third set, during which she went for five of her 11 kills on just seven swings. She thundered down set point on a night when she had several powerful attacks. Of course Schamp also came through with three blocks in the third game.
After Concordia jumped out to a 9-3 lead in the first set, Nebraska Wesleyan called timeout, regrouped and got on a roll. The Prairie Wolves spread their offensive attack around with four different players recording between nine and 11 kills. Star middle Alyssa Stanek had 10 kills (20 attempts) and four blocks. Setter Alexa Rosenau was especially impressive as she notched nine kills, 24 assists, two aces, six digs and four blocks.
White ended up with a match-high 14 kills. She also added 12 digs. Carli Smith led the team with 14 digs. Alayna Kavanaugh dished out 42 assists. Off the bench, middle Annie Friesen contributed six kills and two blocks for a Bulldog team that totaled 13 blocks.
A busy week at home continues on Friday and concludes on Saturday. Next up is Briar Cliff (17-7, 6-5 GPAC) at 7:30 p.m. on Friday when the Bulldogs host their pink out. Concordia’s pink night will raise money and awareness for breast cancer. Fans are encouraged to wear pink. T-shirts for the event can be purchased in the student life office located in the Janzow Campus Center.
The Bulldogs will also be at home to take on No. 21 Dordt at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
“Two very tough matches and two very important matches,” Mattera said. “Win those two and we’re right back in it. We just have to get ourselves a bit more even and not have these ups and downs.”