ORANGE CITY, Iowa – Host Northwestern showed why it’s the No. 6-ranked volleyball team in the NAIA on Friday night in Orange City, Iowa. The Red Raiders (18-2, 5-0 GPAC) rolled through a hot Concordia team coming off an emotional five-set win over No. 18 Hastings on Wednesday. Two nights later the Red Raiders took care of the Bulldogs, 25-18, 25-19, 25-20.
The loss halted a five-match win streak for head coach Scott Mattera’s squad, which now sits at 11-5 overall and 3-2 in GPAC action. Despite the defeat, Mattera still likes where his team is at.
“We played good. Northwestern played great,” Mattera said. “We had more kills and more attacks. We actually controlled a lot of the play. We hit over .200 and that’s saying something against Northwestern. They just didn’t make any mistakes.”
Junior Claire White, who powered down some of the Bulldogs’ biggest points in the victory over Hastings, emerged as the biggest bright spot on Friday evening. White nailed a match-high 16 kills on 33 swings to top Concordia in what was one of her best outings as a Bulldog.
“Claire was awesome,” Mattera said. “She led with positivity all night. Their coach even said they had no answer for her. She had every shot in the book working. She was everywhere.”
An ultra-efficient team that entered play leading the GPAC with a .278 hitting percentage, Northwestern out-hit the Bulldogs, .333 - .204. The Red Raiders, paced by Kaitlin Floerchinger’s 11 kills, committed just 13 errors for head coach Kyle Van Den Bosch.
Northwestern held a significant defensive edge at the net with 8.5 blocks to Concordia’s two.
But the statistics don’t tell the entire story. Mattera applauded the work of defensive specialist Jocelyn Garica, outside hitter Paige Getz, setter Alayna Kavanaugh and middle Mariah Schamp, among others. Concordia did not leave Orange City any less confident than it entered it.
“The girls are a little discouraged because they want to win. That’s a good place to be,” Mattera said. “When reality sets in they will be able to process the fact that we did a lot of things well. Northwestern just played so well. I’m not upset at all with the girls. I’d be upset if we had given in, but we fought and kept coming back.”
Concordia showed it wasn’t intimidated by scoring four points in a row in the first set as Northwestern got stuck on 24 points. After falling behind 9-2 in the second set, the Bulldogs soon followed with a 10-2 run that got them within 22-19. In the third set, Concordia acquitted itself well with a .308 hitting percentage.
It was clear that the Bulldogs’ strong start to the season had caught the Red Raiders’ attention.
“They will be a force to be reckoned with over the next couple of years,” Van Den Bosch said of Concordia in a postgame interview carried on the Northwestern webcast. “They’re long and athletic and play good team volleyball.”
Getz finished with nine kills on 27 attacks. Kavanaugh totaled 32 assists and Carli Smith added a team high 10 digs. Northwestern standout Karlie Schut chipped in nine kills and three blocks.
The Red Raiders have had Concordia’s number, winning each of the last 12 meetings dating back to 2006.
The Bulldogs remain in western Iowa for the night and will take on Morningside (13-6, 1-3 GPAC) at 3 p.m. on Saturday. The Mustangs dropped a home match to Doane, 25-17, 16-25, 25-23, 25-14, on Friday night.