Volleyball hosts crucial matches Friday (pink night) and Saturday

By on Oct. 24, 2014 in Volleyball

Volleyball hosts crucial matches Friday (pink night) and Saturday

SEWARD, Neb. – Now in the stretch run of conference play, the Concordia University volleyball team hosts a pair of matches critical to its chances of reaching its goal of a top-four GPAC seed and the right to a league tournament quarterfinal home match. After dropping a four-set contest to No. 15 (NCAA DIII) Nebraska Wesleyan on Tuesday, the Bulldogs have two more prime opportunities for signature home victories with Briar Cliff (Friday – pink out) and No. 21 Dordt (Saturday) coming to town.

“Two very tough matches and two very important matches,” Bulldog head coach Scott Mattera said following Tuesday’s loss. “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.”

Concordia will be facing both Briar Cliff and Dordt for the first time this season. On Wednesday Briar Cliff topped Dordt in five sets in a match played in Sioux City, Iowa.

Friday, Oct. 24, 7:30 p.m. (JV at 6 p.m.)
Briar Cliff (18-7, 7-5) at Concordia (15-9, 6-5)
Site: Seward, Neb.
Arena: Walz Arena
Webcast: Concordia Sports Network
Play-by-play: Frank Greene
Promotion: Pink out (breast cancer awareness)

Saturday, Oct. 25, 3 p.m. (JV at 1:30 p.m.)
No. 21 Dordt (14-9, 8-4) at Concordia (15-9, 6-5)
Site: Seward, Neb.
Arena: Walz Arena
Webcast: Concordia Sports Network
Play-by-play: Frank Greene 

Head Coach: Scott Mattera (42-44, 3rd year)
Kills: Claire White – 284 (3.30/game)
Assists: Alayna Kavanaugh – 889 (10.46/game)
Digs: Carli Smith – 293 (3.45/game)
Blocks: Mariah Schamp – 61 (0.73/game)
Aces: Claire White – 38 (0.44/game)
Hitting %: Mariah Schamp – .340 

Briar Cliff
Head Coach: Trevor Schirman (38-24, 2nd year)
Kills: Rachele Harrill – 242 (2.49/game)
Assists: Dani Helland – 595 (7.53/game)
Digs: Amy Frank – 475 (4.90/game)
Blocks: Breanna Nogelmeier – 95 (0.98/game)
Aces: Amy Frank – 27 (0.28/game)
Hitting %: Breanna Nogelmeier – .355 

Head Coach: Chad Hanson (77-47, 4th year)
Kills: Brooke Wolterstorff – 287 (3.12/game)
Assists: Kayla Bartman – 865 (9.40/game)
Digs: Meghan Krausman – 271 (3.35/game)
Blocks: Elizabeth Kiel – 101 (1.10/game)
Aces: Meghan Krausman – 23 (0.28/game)
Hitting %: Brooke Wolterstorff – .284 

Bulldogs host pink night Friday in support of breast cancer awareness/prevention
Friday, Oct. 24 has been designated as “pink night” for the Concordia volleyball program. The event is designed to raise awareness for breast cancer prevention and to raise funds to help local families in conjunction with the Pink Bandanas organization. Fans in attendance are encouraged to wear pink to support the cause. Pink night activities include the sale of T-shirts, bake sale, silent auction and a special ceremony between the second and third sets. Bulldog players will be performing in honor or in memory of someone inflicted by breast cancer. Revenue generated from the event will be donated to the Pink Bandanas.

GPAC jockeying
A look at the GPAC standings (see below) reveals just how critical this weekend’s contests are in the race for a top-four seed. When throwing out Nebraska Wesleyan (NCAA Division III for the sport of volleyball), Concordia sits fifth in the conference with both of its next two opponents appearing directly in front of it. The Bulldogs are seeking their first top-four finish in the GPAC since a second-place claim in 2001. Concordia (23-13, 9-1 GPAC in 2000) shared the regular-season league title with both Dordt and Hastings in 2000 under then head coach Becky Ernstmeyer.

GPAC standings
1. Northwestern – 11-0
2. Midland – 9-2
3. Dordt – 8-4
4. Briar Cliff – 7-5
5. Concordia – 6-5
6. Hastings – 5-6
7. Doane – 4-7 

Walz unkind to visitors
An improved Bulldog squad along with increasingly amped up crowds have made life difficult for opponents inside Walz Arena. Concordia went more than a year without losing a match until Tuesday’s four-set defeat at the hands of Nebraska Wesleyan. The Bulldogs had won 12-straight in Seward before the Prairie Wolves halted the streak. Concordia is 7-1 at home this season following an 8-5 record at Walz in 2013.

Join the club
In the history of a Concordia volleyball program that dates back to the late 1960s, a 300-plus kill season has been achieved 25 times. Current Bulldogs Claire White and Paige Getz both eclipsed that number last season. With 284 kills (3.30/game) this season, White is on track to move past 300 this weekend. Getz still has a shot to again reach that number. She has 231 kills (2.69/game). Becky Ernstmeyer (inducted into the Concordia Athletic Hall of Fame earlier this month) has the top two single-season kill totals in school history – 598 (1995) and 501 (1996). White’s 339 kills last season ranks as the 18th highest season total in program annals.

With a career high nine blocks on Tuesday, senior Mariah Schamp moved up to 16th among all GPAC players with an average of 0.73 blocks per game. Schamp has 61 total blocks on the season and 323 for her career (430 sets). In her first three years, the native of Arvada, Colo., posted at least 77 blocks in each season.

Schamp’s top block games
9 – Oct. 21, 2014 vs. Nebraska Wesleyan
8 – Aug. 24, 2013 vs. Mount Vernon Nazarene (Ohio)
8 – Sept. 10, 2011 vs. Union (Ky.)
8 – Oct. 22, 2011 vs. Briar Cliff 

Bulldogs on the offensive
Led by White and Schamp, Concordia’s offensive attack rates among the best in the NAIA. Out of all 219 volleyball programs in the NAIA, the Bulldogs rank 16th in kills per game (13.28), 20th in assists per game (12.05), 21st in hitting percentage (.227) and 30th in aces per game (1.80). Each of those figures place Concordia second among GPAC teams.

Individually, Alayna Kavanaugh ranks 13th nationally in assists per game (10.46) and 35th in total assists (889). White rates 49th in the NAIA in both aces per game (0.44) and kills per game (3.3).

Scouting Briar Cliff
Briar Cliff enters Friday’s match with momentum after having toppled No. 21 Dordt in five sets in Sioux City, Iowa, on Wednesday. The Chargers also came close to pulling an upset of No. 11 Midland on Oct. 18 when the Warriors prevailed in another five-set match. Head coach Trevor Schirman’s squad, which ranks 32nd among all NAIA teams with 12.65 kills per game, has been solid away from home with records of 5-3 on the road and 6-1 in neutral matches. Junior defensive specialist Amy Frank tops the GPAC with 4.90 digs per set. Five Chargers have recorded more than 100 kills as part of a balanced offensive attack. Senior outside hitter Rachele Harrill leads the way with 249 kills for a squad that ranks 52nd in the NAIA with a .202 hitting percentage.

Scouting Dordt
Ranked 21st in this week’s NAIA coaches’ poll, the Defenders own a solid resume that includes six wins over top 25 opponents: No. 6 Grand View (Sept. 9), No. 15 Nebraska Wesleyan (Sept. 26), No. 16 Hastings (Sept. 20), No. 17 Rocky Mountain College (Aug. 22), No. 19 The Master’s College (Aug. 22) and No. 24 Davenport (Aug. 30). Mattera describes Dordt as a team that’s “big and powerful.” The 5-foot-11 sophomore middle/outside hitter Brooke Wolterstorff, a first team all-conference choice in 2013, exemplifies these traits to a tee. She is the team’s most potent attacker with 287 kills and a .284 hitting percentage. Dordt ranks 19th nationally in blocks per game (2.27) and 25th in hitting percentage (.222). Since 1998, Concordia has beaten the Defenders only once.