SEWARD, Neb. – Following a GPAC semifinal appearance last season, the Concordia University volleyball program has attained its highest placement in the GPAC preseason coaches’ poll in 13 years and has also received votes in the NAIA preseason national poll. As announced by the conference on Tuesday, the Bulldogs have been tabbed to place fifth in the GPAC. They had not been picked to finish better than eighth place since 2007. The program’s only GPAC title occurred in 2000 – the first season of the conference’s existence.
Concordia garnered a total of 89 points in the conference poll and even received one first-place nod. The top four teams in the poll were Midland, Northwestern, Hastings and Dordt, respectively. Nos. 1 through 3 all collected at least three first-place votes. In the national rankings, Concordia is listed 12th in the receiving votes category.
A year ago head coach Scott Mattera’s squad tied for fourth overall in the league standings with a 10-6 GPAC record during the regular season. Concordia then blazed past Hastings in straight sets (25-20, 25-22, 25-19) in a conference tournament quarterfinal home match. The 2014 season ended with a 25-17, 25-18, 22-25, 25-21 loss at No. 7 Northwestern in the GPAC semifinals.
Concordia continues to hunt its first NAIA national ranking since appearing at No. 20 in the 2001 preseason poll. The Bulldogs last finished a season inside the national rankings in 2000 when they closed the campaign at No. 18. Last season they nearly cracked the top 25 on Sept. 30 when they checked in as the first team listed among “others receiving votes.”
Mattera’s group is pegged to drop back a placement in the conference standings despite the return of two first team all-conference performers (Alayna Kavanaugh and Claire White) and 83.5 percent of its kills from 2014. The most significant departures are 2014 second team all-conference honorees Mariah Schamp and Carli Smith.
Last season Concordia made victims of three top 25 opponents: No. 14 Oklahoma Baptist, No. 18 Hastings and No. 21 Dordt.
Past Concordia preseason GPAC rankings
2004: Finished 8-8 in GPAC
2002: Finished 6th in GPAC