Volleyball carries 10-match home win streak into homecoming Saturday

By on Oct. 3, 2014 in Volleyball

Volleyball carries 10-match home win streak into homecoming Saturday

SEWARD, Neb. – After back-to-back road losses, the Concordia University volleyball team returns to friendly Walz Arena, a place where the Bulldogs have not lost since Oct. 1, 2013. As part of homecoming Saturday on campus, Concordia welcomes Dakota Wesleyan University (5-11, 0-6 GPAC) for a 4:30 p.m. first serve.

The last time the Bulldogs played in Seward, they knocked off No. 18 Hastings in five sets in front of a frenzied white-out crowd. Concordia is 5-0 at home with two of those wins against conference opponents.

Saturday, Oct. 4, 4:30 p.m.
Dakota Wesleyan (5-11, 0-6) at Concordia (12-7, 4-3)
Site: Seward, Neb.
Arena: Walz Arena
Webcast: Concordia Sports Network
Play-by-play: Frank Greene 

Head Coach: Scott Mattera (39-42, 3rd year)
Kills: Claire White – 214 (3.10/game)
Assists: Alayna Kavanaugh – 707 (10.40/game)
Digs: Carli Smith – 234 (3.44/game)
Blocks: Mariah Schamp – 45 (0.67/game)
Aces: Claire White – 30 (0.43/game) 

Dakota Wesleyan
Head Coach: Lindsay Wilber (5-11, 1st year)
Kills: Lauren Tadlock – 168 (3.29/game)
Assists: Michelle Van Epps – 574 (9.73/game)
Digs: Maggie Stehly – 210 (3.75/game)
Blocks: Mallory Jark – 37 (0.67/game)
Aces: Michelle Van Epps/Mackenzie Stevens – 13 (0.22/game) 

So close
Last week’s win over No. 18 Hastings helped bump Concordia up to fourth in the official GPAC rankings and nearly vaulted it into the Tachikara-NAIA Volleyball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll. With 87 points in the poll, the Bulldogs were the first team listed among “others receiving votes.” Concordia is looking to crack the national rankings for the first time since the 2001 preseason poll. The last Bulldog volleyball team to end a season ranked in the top 25 was the 2000 squad that finished No. 18 and rose as high as 12th during the campaign. Then coached by Becky Ernstmeyer, the Bulldogs went 23-13 overall and shared the GPAC title on the way to reaching the NAIA Region IV playoffs.

Official GPAC rankings
1. Northwestern
2. Midland
3. Dordt
4. Concordia
5. Hastings
5. Briar Cliff
7. Doane
8. Morningside
9. Mount Marty
10. Dakota Wesleyan
*Nebraska Wesleyan is designated as NCAA DIII in volleyball 

Kavanaugh dishes
In Thursday’s five-set defeat at College of Saint Marty, sophomore setter Alayna Kavanaugh piled up a career high 63 assists. With 707 assists on the season, the Lincoln native is well on her way to becoming the seventh player in program history to eclipse 1,000 in a campaign. Kavanaugh’s average of 10.4 assists per game ranks 16th among all NAIA players and puts her within range of the 10.68 per game that Stacy Stuckenschmidt averaged in 1995 when she set a program record with 1,676 assists on the year. Stuckenschmidt (1992-95) also owns the school record for career assists (4,949).

Bulldogs with 1,000+ assists in a season
1,676 – Stacy Stuckenschmidt (50 matches), 1995
1,303 – Karin Krieger (35 matches), 2005
1,282 – Stacy Stuckenschmidt (48 matches), 1993
1,188 – Jenny Rempe (40 matches), 1996
1,121 – Stacy Stuckenschmidt (42 matches), 1994
1,039 – Kelly Brown (34 matches), 1997 

Getting offensive
Said Northwestern head coach Kyle Van Den Bosch of Concordia, “They’re long and athletic and play good team volleyball.” That team approach, spearheaded by Kavanaugh’s role as facilitator, has helped the Bulldogs become one of the most proficient attacking teams nationally. Concordia ranks 17th among all 219 NAIA volleyball programs with an average of 13.07 kills per game. Kavanaugh and company also rate 24th nationally in hitting percentage (.224). The Bulldogs have hit above .200 in 12 of their first 19 matches. They are 9-3 in those dozen outings.

Working without Workman
Sophomore middle Taylor Workman suffered a knee injury in Concordia’s straight-sets win over Morningside on Sept. 27. In their two matches without Workman, the Bulldogs have relied more upon freshman Annie Friesen, who has delivered with combined totals of 25 kills and six blocks. Mattera also has dependable senior Mariah Schamp (team leader with 45 blocks) in the middle.

Workman was leading the Bulldogs with a hitting percentage of .408 (106 kills and 26 errors on 196 attempts) before going down. That figure, if using a 3.33 attacks/game minimum (as used by the NCAA), would rank in the top five nationally.

Scouting Dakota Wesleyan
Lindsay Wilber is in her first season as head coach after replacing Eric Viney. Wilber’s Tigers have lost four of their first six GPAC matches in straight sets and the other two in four sets. Dakota Wesleyan gave No. 18 Hastings a bit of a scare by taking the first set in their meeting in Mitchell, S.D., on Sept. 27. The Tigers own wins over Dickinson State University (twice), Johnson & Wales University, Presentation College and Valley City State University. Sophomore outside hitter Lauren Tadlock ranks third in the GPAC with 3.3 kills per set. As a team, the Tigers own a .188 hitting percentage (eighth in the GPAC).