Volleyball welcomes No. 17 Northwestern for GPAC quarterfinal tilt

By on Nov. 5, 2015 in Volleyball

Volleyball welcomes No. 17 Northwestern for GPAC quarterfinal tilt

SEWARD, Neb. – For the second-straight season, the Concordia University volleyball team will begin postseason play within the friendly confines of Walz Arena. The 20th-ranked and fourth-seeded Bulldogs will go head-to-head with 17th-ranked and fifth-seeded Northwestern at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. It will be a rematch of the Sept. 26 contest that Concordia won, 19-25, 26-24, 24-26, 25-19, 15-9, in Orange City, Iowa.

Fans are encouraged to wear blue to support the 'blue out.'

(17) Northwestern (24-7, 12-4) at (20) Concordia (24-7, 12-4)
Saturday, Nov. 7 | 7:30 p.m.
Site: Seward, Neb.
Venue: Walz Arena
Radio: 104.9 Max Country (KTMX-FM)
Webcast: Concordia Sports Network 

Head coach Scott Mattera’s squad closed the regular season with a straight-sets win at Nebraska Wesleyan on Wednesday night. Junior setter Alayna Kavanaugh piled up 49 assists while facilitating four different teammates with nine kills or more. Sophomore Annie Friesen led the way with 15 kills from the middle. Meanwhile, senior Claire White had a big night, going for 13 kills (26 attempts) and 15 digs. Their efforts helped Concordia to its first season sweep of the Prairie Wolves since 2006.

Kavanaugh, who ranks 10th among all NAIA players in assists per set (10.87), has affectively spread the ball around all season. The Bulldogs are the only team in the GPAC to have five attackers with more than 200 kills: Paige Getz (301), Friesen (287), White (284), Tiegen Skains (253) and Taylor Workman (215). Friesen is hitting a team high .395.

In the process of winning for the 24th time this season, the Bulldogs equaled the program’s most victories since the 2005 team went 24-11 overall. Only five teams in school history have totaled more than 24 wins in a single season (see list below).

Northwestern fell to the No. 5 seed in the conference tournament despite entering Wednesday night with an opportunity to pull even for the GPAC regular-season title. The Red Raiders pushed host Dordt to five sets, but the Defenders persevered and won the conference championship outright. Like Concordia, head coach Kyle Van Den Bosch’s squad is one of the most powerful in the NAIA on the attack. Led by outside hitter Karlie Schut, who ranks 12th among all NAIA players in kills per set (4.0).

Both teams come into the postseason having been tested by numerous nationally-ranked teams. Northwestern is 2-7 versus ranked opponents while the Bulldogs are 5-3 against top 25 foes. Concordia owns victories over No. 2 Midland, No. 11 Northwestern, No. 19 Hastings, No. 20 Montana Tech and No. 24 Doane. The Red Raiders possess wins over No. 14 Dordt and No. 15 Madonna (Mich.).

The Bulldogs are aiming to advance to the GPAC semifinals for the second-straight season. In the 2014 quarterfinals, Concordia rolled past Hastings, 25-20, 25-22, 25-19. The Bulldogs then had their season end at Northwestern by a 25-17, 25-18, 22-25, 25-21 decision.

Winningest seasons in program history
1. 40-10 (1995)
2. 35-8 (1981)
3. 32-6 (1982)
4. 28-12 (1996)
5. 27-21 (1993)
T6. 24-7 (2015)
T6. 24-11 (2005)
T6. 24-11 (1999) 

Individual milestones reached in 2015
Claire White – 1,000 career kills
Alayna Kavanaugh – 3,000 career assists
Paige Getz – three-straight seasons with 300+ kills

2015 GPAC Tournament Schedule

Saturday, Nov. 7 – Quarterfinals
(8) College of Saint Mary at (1) Dordt, 7:30 p.m.
(5) Northwestern at (4) Concordia, 7:30 p.m.
(6) Briar Cliff at (3) Hastings, 7:30 p.m.
(7) Doane at (2) Midland, 7:30 p.m. 

Wednesday, Nov. 11 – Semifinals
4/5 winner vs. 1/8 winner, 7:30 p.m.
3/6 winner vs. 2/7 winner, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 14 – Championship
Time TBA