2016 Volleyball

15-19 Overall | 6-10 GPAC | Season stats

Season preview: 2016 Concordia volleyball
August 15, 2016 

Head coach: Scott Mattera (73-56, four years); 2015 GPAC tri-coach of the year
2015 Record: 26-9 overall; 12-4 GPAC (T-4th); GPAC tournament runner up; national tournament qualifier
Key Returners: M Annie Friesen; DS Jocelyn Garcia; OH Paige Getz; S Alayna Kavanaugh; RS Tiegen Skains; M Taylor Workman.
Key Newcomers: S Emma Brand, OH/DS Jenna Eller, OH Alex LaPlant, M Emmie Noyd.
Key Losses: OH Claire White.
2015 GPAC All-Conference: Annie Friesen (first team); Jocelyn Garcia (first team); Alayna Kavanaugh (first team); Paige Getz (second team); Claire White (second team); Tiegen Skains (honorable mention); Taylor Workman (honorable mention).
2015 NAIA All-America: Jocelyn Garcia (honorable mention); Alayna Kavanaugh (honorable mention). 

Season Outlook
There’s unfinished business left over from the 2015 season that culminated with a home loss to Olivet Nazarene in the opening round of the national tournament. The defeat prevented Concordia from advancing to Sioux City for the next level of the national championships.

But the abbreviated stay at the national tournament did not define a historic season for a Bulldog volleyball program that had never before reached the national stage. Even University of Nebraska head coach John Cook, who led the Huskers to the 2015 NCAA Division I national title, acknowledged Concordia’s rise during a summer camp session.

The rapid rise has been in the works for the past few seasons, fostered by fifth-year head coach Scott Mattera (2015 GPAC tri-coach of the year) along with the core four group of seniors consisting of outside hitter Paige Getz, setter Alayna Kavanaugh, right side Tiegen Skains and middle Taylor Workman.

“The real reward is seeing the girls’ work pay off and sitting back and watching them realize that it was all worth it,” Mattera said. “They felt such joy as the community got behind them so much. You just kind of stand back as almost a proud parent watching them get what they earned. That was really cool to see that for the girls.”

The Bulldogs have increasingly captivated the campus with a powerful style of play that resulted in them ranking inside the top 20 nationally in kills per game a season ago. As the quarterback of the attack, Kavanaugh has a bevy of dangerous hitters at her disposal. Last season three different Bulldogs totaled at least 300 kills and another two had 240 or more. Getz led the way with a career high 346 and now stands just 44 kills off of 1,000 for her career.

Getz serves as a vocal leader for a senior class that’s about as good as it gets when it comes to program history. The season before the group arrived in Seward, the Bulldogs went 10-21 as Mattera began to restock the program in his first season. Concordia has gone a combined 63-35 since then. But Mattera believes there’s another level they can reach this season.

“They believed we were going to do this,” Mattera said. “They bought in before they even got here. They’ll never know how much that meant to me. They bought in before they could even see the evidence of who we were going to be. They’ve done nothing but make it great the last few years. Now I’m looking for them to not only be great players and people off the floor but take on those leadership roles that they’ve been evolving into the last few years.”

The junior class also features two big stars in middle Annie Friesen and defensive specialist Jocelyn Garcia. The 6-foot-1 Friesen made immense strides from her freshman to sophomore year, earning first team all-conference accolades in 2015. The native of Wichita, Kan., commanded attention for her dominance in the middle (.374 hitting percentage) and for her playful antics on the court. Rock-star salutes and in-huddle dances were part of her repertoire.

Mattera endearingly tags his team with labels such as goofballs, goobers and nerds. They keep the atmosphere light, to be sure. “A group of nerds? I’d say that’s probably half right,” Kavanaugh joked. Whatever, it works.

“It’s part of our culture here,” Mattera said. “It’s carved out a pretty interesting niche for us. When we have recruits come and play with us they’re kind of amazed by how loose we are and how much we let them go – just be nerds and goofballs at practice. We’ve got a group of young ladies that plays better when they’re looser and having fun. Sometimes we have to rain it in, but we do have one of those groups that plays better when they’re laughing.”

Garcia’s play in the back row is no laughing matter. She’s a budding star who frequently shows no regard for her body in diving all over the hardwood. She was named the West Central Region Libero of the Year for good reason. With Claire White, a steady attacker and passer, having graduated, Garcia becomes even more important.

The Bulldogs also have to make up for the departures of a host of 2015 seniors who were labeled as role players. Several saw time in the back row as defensive specialists. In other words, there is opportunity for underclassmen, including the group of incoming freshmen. Rookies such as Emma Brand (Springfield, Mo.), Jenna Eller (David City, Neb.), Alex LaPlant (Cypress, Texas) and Emmie Noyd (Shelby, Neb.) possess the ability to grab early playing time. Says Mattera, “It’s a pretty special class of kids.”

They have a chance to make for another special season at Concordia, which made a run to the 2015 GPAC tournament championship match. With so many key parts back in place and with very few questions to answer, expectations remain high.

“We all are expecting to go to nationals and do well,” Kavanaugh said. “I think we can definitely do that. We have the potential to be top four (in the GPAC) and maybe win it.”

A successful season will have to be earned while up against a meat grinder of a schedule. Last season Concordia was one of five GPAC teams to rank in the top 25 of the postseason coaches’ poll. The conference is expected to be strong again. Not only that, the Bulldogs will test themselves significantly outside the GPAC early versus nationally-ranked teams in Eastern Oregon and Rocky Mountain (Mont.) as part of a journey to Butte, Mont. The trip will provide an indication of where Mattera’s squad stands.

Last season Concordia got over the hump against elite competition. Most impressive were road wins over Midland, undefeated at the time, and over Northwestern. It’s those signature moments that have the Bulldogs, not just believing, but knowing they can play with anyone in the country. The Bulldogs have improved each season while employing the current class of seniors. The next step is to make it to Sioux City – and it’s just fine to talk about it.

“I’m totally OK talking about those kinds of things,” Mattera said. “It’s one of the things that Nebraska volleyball did so impressively last year. They weren’t afraid to talk about making the Final Four in Omaha last year. We’re saying, ‘Yeah, that’s what we want to do.’ On the flip side, people ask what your goals are for the season. We don’t sit down and say, ‘We need this many wins or we want to be ranked this high in the country.’ It’s a matter of we know what we’re capable of and we want to get there. We believe if we take care of the process, treat each other the right way and work to get better every day, the results will take care of themselves.”

Concordia opens the 2016 season on Saturday when it hosts Waldorf College at 5 p.m. The Warriors, a member of the North Star Athletic Association, went 9-29 in 2015.




Oh so close
August 26, 2016 

BUTTE, Mont. – The early-season grind continued for the 20th-ranked Concordia University volleyball program on Friday as part of the first day of the Big Sky Volleyball Challenge hosted by Montana Tech. It was a day of heartbreak for the Bulldogs, who dropped straight-sets decisions to both the University of Great Falls (Mont.) and Carroll College (Mont.). Each of the final five sets on Friday were decided by just two points.

Still, fifth-year head coach Scott Mattera has reason to believe his group is on the verge of a breakout. Things just haven’t clicked thus far for Concordia (1-3).

“When you come and play great teams that’s going to happen every once in a while,” Mattera said. “Clearly we’re not happy with it. We didn’t expect to be 1-3 right now, but we’re also figuring out a lot of stuff. It’s a learning experience. When you come in Aug. 12 (for preseason) and you have six matches in the next two weeks, you just go. We are really, really close.”

In Friday’s capper against Carroll, the Bulldogs held advantages late in every set. Concordia led 21-18 in the first, 24-23 in the second and 22-20 in the third. But every time, Paige Montgomery (14 kills), Holly Morehouse (12 kills) and the Saints emerged with big points down the stretch.

Those efforts allowed Carroll to overcome another solid performance from budding freshman Alex La Plant. She hammered 10 kills on just 14 swings with no errors. Paige Getz, who climbed to 988 kills for her career, totaled 19 kills on the day.

Fittingly, Concordia’s opening match on Friday ended when the Argos’ Tiffany Marks and Korie Milan combined on a block of Tiegen Skains. Denials were the story of the contest. Great Falls used a block advantage of 14-2 to wipe out the Bulldogs in straight sets. The Bulldogs were stifled in the opening set, hitting -.100 before settling for a hitting percentage of .076 for the match.

Junior defensive specialist Jocelyn Garcia cleaned up in the back row with a combined 31 digs over Friday’s six sets. On the attack, Concordia heated up from .076 in the first match to .250 in the day’s second contest. Middles Emmie Noyd (seven kills on 14 attacks vs. Great Falls) and Taylor Workman (eight kills on 17 swings vs. Carroll) both had one terrific statistical match.

The Big Sky Challenge will offer two more Concordia matches on Saturday. The Bulldogs will be up early for a 9 a.m. MT first serve with No. 8 Eastern Oregon. They then finish the weekend by taking on No. 15 Rocky Mountain (Mont.) at 1 p.m. MT.

More consistent play and a couple of breaks could help get the Bulldogs in the win column before leaving Montana.

“We show flashes of being really, really good,” Mattera said. “It’s little stuff execution-wise. We need more reps, we need more practice and we need to play together a little bit longer. It’s not the result we wanted on the scoreboard, but we are all really hopeful.”

Getz surpasses 1,000 career kills in tough-luck weekend
August 27, 2016 

BUTTE, Mont. – The 20th-ranked Concordia University volleyball team is coming home empty-handed after a weekend of close calls at the Big Sky Challenge hosted by Montana Tech. The Bulldogs fell in all 12 sets – eight times by the minimum two points – during action in Butte, Mont, over the two-day event. On Saturday, Concordia dropped matches to both No. 8 Eastern Oregon University, 25-19, 25-14, 25-22, and 15th-ranked Rocky Mountain College, 25-23, 25-23, 25-23.

The biggest highlight on Saturday came in the first set versus Rocky Mountain when senior Paige Getz blistered her third kill of the match and the 1,000th of her collegiate career. Both of her parents were in attendance at the Civic Center to see it.

“It’s pretty cool. I never really thought that I would get there,” Getz said. “Everything happened because of my team. They get the props.”

Getz became the third player under fifth-year head coach Scott Mattera to reach quadruple digits in kills. She joined Amanda Kisker (’13) and Claire White (’16) as members of the exclusive club. Getz topped Concordia on Saturday with 22 kills, one more than fellow senior Tiegen Skains.

Getz believes her squad will learn from the challenging weekend as it prepares for another ranked opponent next week.

“I think we learned a lot about the little things,” Getz said. “We definitely play well together. We have amazing talent. It’s just little things that we need to fix.”

Known for its power and flair offensively, the Bulldogs posted hitting percentages of .163 and .148, respectively, on Saturday. Inefficiencies here and there have played a part in Concordia’s 1-5 start versus a bear of a schedule. The Bulldogs are looking forward to getting more practice time to iron those things out and get back to the level of play that helped them reach the national tournament a year ago.

“We need to get back in the gym and practice. We have a lot of stuff on video now,” Mattera said. “I told the girls, when we watch this stuff on video we’re going to wonder how we lost all these games, because there’s a lot of really, really good stuff in there.

“When you look at it, preseason is about getting better. Going out and scheduling really tough teams is only going to make us better for the GPAC run. Nobody out here saw us and thought, ‘Wow, that’s a terrible team.’”

Concordia was just the latest team to be flattened by the Eastern Oregon steamroller. The Mountaineers (6-1) won their fifth-consecutive straight-sets match by taking care of the Bulldogs in just over an hour. Eastern Oregon showcased an impressive group of hitters led by Makayla Lindburg, who totaled 10 kills on 21 attempts. The Mountaineers hit .343 for the match while quarterbacked by setter Rachelle Chamberlain, a third team All-American in 2015.

It was a monster day in the back row for junior Jocelyn Garcia, who tracked down 39 digs, including 24 in the battle with Rocky Mountain. Freshman Alex La Plant added nine kills in both matches and Alayna Kavanaugh dished out 39 assists in the trip’s finale. Meanwhile, freshman Emmie Noyd registered nine total blocks.

The schedule won’t lighten up next week for the Bulldogs, who open up GPAC play on Wednesday with a trip to No. 6 Midland (7-0). The varsity (7:30 p.m.) will follow the junior varsity (6 p.m.) from Fremont. The varsity match will be carried live by 104.9 Max Country.

Volleyball moves on, looks ahead to GPAC play
August 30, 2016 

SEWARD, Neb. – Another hectic week is upon the 20th-ranked Concordia University volleyball team. The Bulldogs are moving on after a weekend trip to the Big Sky Challenge in Butte, Mont., where they fell in all four matches (eight sets decided by two points).

It was a tough weekend, but you won’t find any panic in a team that plays loose and has many of the key figures back from the 2015 group that reached the national tournament. Head coach Scott Mattera was eager to get his team back in the gym for practice on Monday, a day after the team returned from its long bus ride back from Montana.

Some of the little things kept biting the Bulldogs late in sets in last week’s action.

“We’re not using all of our weapons yet,” Mattera said at the conclusion of the Big Sky Challenge. “We just haven’t installed a lot of that yet. Maybe with the scheduling we bit off a little bit more than we could chew early on. That’s on me. When you really look at it, preseason is about getting better. We’re not happy with being 1-5. We also know we have 20-some matches left on our schedule and the season is very, very young.”

The schedule will continue to provide opportunities for signature wins. It won’t get any easier on Wednesday as Concordia travels to play undefeated and sixth-ranked Midland (7-0) in the GPAC opener for both teams. The Warriors are riding high having already toppled four ranked opponents. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs would relish the chance to end Midland’s unbeaten season just as they did last season in Fremont, where Concordia won in five sets over a Warrior team that sported a 22-0 record entering the match.

Senior Paige Getz, who just became the eighth player in program history to total 1,000 career kills as a Bulldog, has confidence in her teammates. “I think we learned a lot about the little things,” Getz said after this past weekend’s action. “We definitely play well together. We have amazing talent. It’s just little things we need to fix.”

Following Wednesday’s short conference road trip, the Bulldogs will entertain five other volleyball programs, including two NCAA Division II programs, as part of the Bulldog Bash (Sept. 2-3). Concordia will play twice inside Walz Arena on both Friday and Saturday (schedule below).

All 11 matches at the Bulldog Bash will be carried live on the Concordia Sports Network. Friday night’s contest versus Minot State University (N.D.) (8 p.m.) will also be broadcast live via 104.9 Max Country radio. Frank Greene will call the action.

Bulldog Bash (Sept. 2-3)

Friday, Sept. 2
York vs. Lindenwood Belleville, 11 a.m.
Concordia vs. Bemidji State, 1 p.m.
Minot State vs. Lindenwood Belleville, 4 p.m.
Bemidji State vs. York, 6 p.m.
Concordia vs. Minot State, 8 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 3
Concordia vs. Lindenwood Belleville, 9 a.m.
Bemidji State vs. Bethany (Kan.), 11 a.m.
York vs. Minot State, 1 p.m.
Bemidji State vs. Lindenwood Belleville, 4 p.m.
Minot State vs. Bethany, 6 p.m.
Concordia vs. York, 8 p.m.

Concordia falls at undefeated Midland
August 31, 2016 

FREMONT, Neb. – The early-season gauntlet failed to ease up on the 20th-ranked Concordia University volleyball team, which opened up conference play on Wednesday night in Fremont, Neb. Sixth-ranked Midland remained unbeaten by handing the Bulldogs a 25-21, 25-21, 25-19 defeat.

Fifth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s program had hoped to right the ship and duplicate the upset it pulled at Midland during the 2015 regular season. Instead, Concordia dropped its sixth-straight match and slumped to 1-6 overall.

The Bulldogs struggled all night to contain Priscilla O’Dowd, who registered 15 kills on just 25 attacks. In addition, the Warriors’ Krystina Koepke hammered seven kills on nine swings. O’Dowd and Koepke were the ringleaders, facilitated by setter Jessica Peters, behind an attack that hit .327 for the match. Five Midland players booked five or more kills.

On the other side of the net, Concordia hit .215. Middle Taylor Workman had the most success among Bulldog hitters, collecting six kills on 11 attempts. Alayna Kavanaugh piled up 26 assists. Defensively, junior Jocelyn Garcia led the way with 13 digs. Despite the six-point gap in the third set, the Bulldogs hit .357 while putting away 13 points on kills.

Concordia appeared as though it may snap its stretch of consecutive set losses in the second game when it held an 18-14 lead following a Workman kill. Midland then responded with eight-straight points – six by kill – to take control and a 22-18 lead.

Each of Concordia’s last three defeats have come against teams ranked inside the top 15 of the NAIA preseason coaches’ poll. Two of those losses came during a four-match weekend stay in Butte, Mont., at the Big Sky Challenge.

The Bulldogs will be back at Walz Arena for another four-match weekend. Concordia will play twice on Friday and twice more on Saturday as part of the Bulldog Bash (schedule below), which features six volleyball programs (including two NCAA Division II institutions).

Friday, Sept. 2
York vs. Lindenwood Belleville, 11 a.m.
Concordia vs. Bemidji State, 1 p.m.
Minot State vs. Lindenwood Belleville, 4 p.m.
Bemidji State vs. York, 6 p.m.
Concordia vs. Minot State, 8 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 3
Concordia vs. Lindenwood Belleville, 9 a.m.
Bemidji State vs. Bethany (Kan.), 11 a.m.
York vs. Minot State, 1 p.m.
Bemidji State vs. Lindenwood Belleville, 4 p.m.
Minot State vs. Bethany, 6 p.m.
Concordia vs. York, 8 p.m.

Bulldogs hunt down Beavers
September 2, 2016 

SEWARD, Neb. – Thirsting to get back into the win column, the 20th-ranked Concordia University volleyball team went Beaver hunting on Friday, which marked day one of the Bulldog Bash inside Walz Arena. The Bulldogs snapped a six-match skid by toppling NCAA Division II opponents, Bemidji State University (Minn.), 25-20, 25-21, 25-23, and Minot State University (N.D.), 25-21, 32-30, 25-15.

By taking out a pair of teams that feature the nickname Beavers, fifth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad improved to 3-6 overall. The positive results were the perfect tonic for a team that fell victim to a series of two-point set defeats over its recent losing streak.

“That second set special,” Mattera said of the dramatic 32-30 set that occurred in the match versus Minot State. “That’s exactly what we needed as a team – to just battle and battle and step up. It was different kids every time. That’s who we have to be.”

What Concordia also wants to be is a dangerous attacking team, but yet it came into the night hitting .178 on the year. With setter Alayna Kavanaugh at the controls, the Bulldogs bumped up their hitting percentages to .309 and .286, respectively, in their two victories on Friday. Kavanaugh kept the Beavers off balance by making use of all of her teammates.

Freshman Alex La Plant really got rolling in the day’s final set, burning Minot State for six kills on seven attempts during that segment. She finished with a match high 14 kills. Fellow outside hitter Paige Getz also went for seven more kills in the night cap, running her career total to 1,037. That number moved her up to sixth on the program’s all-time kills list, just ahead of former teammate Claire White.

Getz and company had grown tired of tough luck, so they made their own on Friday.

“We had a meeting and I said, ‘We’ve lost 18 sets in a row. We don’t have anything else to lose.’ Just go out swinging hard in that first game,” Kavanaugh said. “That’s what we did. Having that mindset just gave us lighter shoulders. The change of mindset helped.”

The second set of the Minot State match easily provided the most tension of the day. The Bulldogs failed to put away set point on several occasions and fell behind 30-29 after their own attack error. Concordia followed with a confidence-boosting sequence that included a La Plant kill, a Beaver attack error and a Getz set-clinching kill. La Plant then spurred her squad to a .435 hitting percentage in a scorching third set.

In the back row, it was another solid day for junior Jocelyn Garica, who tracked down 26 attacks. Offensively, senior Taylor Workman was nearly unstoppable versus Bemidji State. She put down eight kills on 10 swings in the day’s first match. A fine team effort was needed to overcome the star power of Bemidji State’s Jessica Yost, who crushed 20 kills and later in the day went over 1,000 kills for her career.

Concordia also featured a strong serve game, totaling 23 aces on the day. Ten of those came from freshman Jenna Eller, who sprayed bullets all day at the Beavers. She entered the day with eight aces on the season.

Both Bemidji State and Minot State opened their 2016 seasons on Friday. Minot State picked up a win over Lindenwood-Belleville (Ill.) and Bemidji State knocked off York College as part of the marathon inside Walz Arena.

The Bulldog Bash continues on Saturday with six more matches (all streamed on the Concordia Sports Network). Concordia is now 3-1 at home this season.

Saturday, Sept. 3
Concordia vs. Lindenwood-Belleville, 9 a.m.
Bemidji State vs. Bethany, 11 a.m.
York vs. Minot State, 1 p.m.
Bemidji State vs. Lindenwood-Belleville, 4 p.m.
Minot State vs. Bethany, 6 p.m.
Concordia vs. York, 8 p.m.

Bulldogs bash Saturday foes
September 4, 2016 

SEWARD, Neb. – Ah, that’s more like it. The 20th-ranked Concordia University volleyball team completed a perfect weekend at its own Bulldog Bash on Saturday by rifling through Lindenwood University-Belleville (Ill.), 25-11, 25-22, 21-25, 25-11, and York College, 25-14, 25-9, 25-19. The latter match culminated in less than 60 minutes with the Bulldogs fashioning a ruthless attack.

The four-match win streak has pushed head coach Scott Mattera’s squad to an overall record of 5-6 on the campaign.

This was what Concordia volleyball was supposed to look like. On Saturday Paige Getz dazzled with 27 kills on only 56 swings from the outside and the Bulldogs demoralized York by hitting an other worldly .438.

“I thought the mix was really good, not only with the selections that Alayna (Kavanaugh) made, but with the shot selection of our individual hitters,” Mattera said. “And our serve receive was fantastic.

“There were a lot of good hitting percentages there. That comes with ball control. When our passers are doing that and our setter’s putting the ball where it needs to be, that’s who we can be.”

Kavanaugh dished out 80 assists on a day when Concordia hitters abused the floor boards. In the morning victory over the Lynx, Emmie Noyd hit .529 (11 kills), Taylor Workman .476 (12 kills) and Getz .343 (14 kills). Then in the night cap, Getz remained ablaze while hitting .524 (13 kills). Also on the outside, freshman Alex La Plant attacked at a .381 clip (11 kills).

Some of those kills were made possible by serving extraordinaire Jenna Eller. She pummeled nine more aces on Saturday, giving her 19 for the weekend. But it wasn’t just about the aces. Her darting, sinking serves softened up the opposition for Getz and company on the attack.

“I like having that opportunity to go back every time and make a difference for our team,” Eller said. “A lot of the hitters appreciate the free ball coming over.”

Junior Jocelyn Garcia is a big part of the aforementioned serve receive game. She continues to collect digs at an impressive rate. She climbed over 900 for her career with 33 digs on Saturday. Up front, Noyd piled up eight blocks.

Concordia is now 4-1 at home this season. The victory over Lindenwood-Belleville marked the first time this season that the Bulldogs have played a match that went more than three sets. Mattera’s squad effectively came back Saturday morning after playing a late match on Friday. The turnaround didn’t seem to bother a lively Concordia bunch that got the confidence boost it needed this weekend.

The Bulldogs will hit the road on Wednesday for a trip to Atchison, Kan., and a date with Benedictine College. First serve is set for 7:30 p.m. Concordia will attempt to avenge a 2015 home loss to the Ravens, a member of the Heart of America Athletic Conference.

Garcia nets GPAC player of the week accolades
September 6, 2016 

SEWARD, Neb. – Following a perfect weekend for the Concordia University volleyball program, junior defensive specialist Jocelyn Garcia has been tabbed the Hauff Mid-America Sports/GPAC Volleyball Defensive Player of the Week, as announced by the conference on Tuesday (Sept. 6). It’s the fourth career GPAC weekly award for Garcia.

The native of Brighton, Colo., has been all over the place in the back row for the Bulldogs. Across five matches over this past week, Garcia averaged 4.5 digs per set while totaling 72 digs and eight aces. She posted a serve receive percentage of 94.8 for the week. Garcia’s efforts helped Concordia go 4-0 at the Bulldog Bash, claiming wins over Bemidji State University (Minn.), Minot State University (S.D.), Lindenwood University-Belleville (Ill.) and York College.

Last season Garcia amassed 559 digs as a sophomore, putting her seventh on Concordia’s all-time single-season list for most digs. This season Garcia has already racked up 165 digs, pushing her career total to 912. Her averages of 4.85 digs and 4.71 receptions per game are career bests. She currently ranks third among GPAC players in digs per game.

Garcia and the Bulldogs will be on the road on Wednesday for a trip to Benedictine College (Kan.) (4-5). The varsity match is set to begin at 7:30 p.m. CT. The action will be carried live on KTMX-FM 104.9 Max Country radio.

Volleyball faces week away from home
September 6, 2016 


SEWARD, Neb. – After a weekend inside the friendly confines of Walz Arena, the Concordia University volleyball team will play four times away from home this week. First up is a trip to Atchison, Kan., for a date with Benedictine College on Wednesday. The Bulldogs will also get another crack at a nationally-ranked opponent on Saturday as part of the Hastings College Classic (this week’s schedule listed at bottom).

Head coach Scott Mattera’s squad has regained its mojo thanks to a 4-0 run through the Bulldog Bash. It was a much-needed hot streak that followed a stretch of six-straight losses. At the Bulldog Bash, Concordia hit .320 and defeated three of four opponents in straight sets, including a pair of NCAA Division II foes. Setter Alayna Kavanaugh sprayed the ball around, registering 146 assists over 13 sets at the weekend event.

Senior outside hitter Paige Getz was one of the great beneficiaries of Kavanaugh’s precision passing. Getz continues to climb Concordia’s list of all-time kills leaders. She now stands sixth on the list with 1,064 kills, a total that surpasses former teammate Claire White. Getz pounded more than 300 kills in each of her first three seasons with the Bulldogs.

Defensively, junior Jocelyn Garcia has taken her game to new heights as a rangy defensive specialist. On Tuesday the GPAC named her the conference’s defensive player of the week. She’s currently averaging career bests for digs per set (4.85) and service receptions per set (4.71). She’s beginning to close in on 1,000 career digs. She sits at 912 through 262 sets played in her collegiate career.

Wednesday’s contest at Benedictine is a rematch from 2015 when the Ravens stunned Concordia in Seward with a four-set victory. The Bulldogs fell despite 15 kills from middle Annie Friesen. The weekend slate is highlighted by the Saturday afternoon showdown with No. 8 MidAmerica Nazarene University (Kan.). Concordia is 0-3 so far this season against ranked opponents, but went 6-4 in 2015 against top-25 foes.

Friesen’s status for the remainder of the season is still uncertain. She went down with a knee injury in Concordia’s straight-sets loss to Peru State College on Aug. 23. Emmie Noyd and Taylor Workman have held down the middle in her absence.

In the top-25 poll released on Tuesday by the NAIA, Concordia, previously ranked 20th, dropped from the rankings. It snapped a run of 11-straight national poll appearances for the Bulldogs, who peaked at No. 15 during a 2015 campaign that saw them earn a berth in the national tournament for the first time in program history.

This week’s schedule
^Wed., Sept. 7 at Benedictine College (4-5), 7:30 p.m.
*Fri., Sept. 9 vs. Missouri Valley College (9-1), 7 p.m.
*Sat., Sept. 10 vs. University of Montana Western (4-4), 12 p.m.
*Sat., Sept. 10 vs. (8) MidAmerica Nazarene University (10-1), 4 p.m.
*Friday and Saturday matches will take place at Hastings College
^Wednesday’s match is the lone outing this week that will be carried live by 104.9 Max Country radio. Frank Greene will call the action.

Third-set rally highlights fifth-straight victory
September 7, 2016 

ATCHISON, Kan. – The Concordia University volleyball team righted itself last week with four-consecutive home wins, but on Wednesday it sought to prove that it could face adversity on the road and then persevere. Consider it done. The Bulldogs climbed out of a significant hole in the third set and picked up a hard-earned win, 25-22, 23-25, 27-25, 25-17, at Benedictine College (Kan.) in avenging a home loss from 2015.

Led by reigning GPAC defensive player of the week Jocelyn Garcia (31 digs), Concordia held the Ravens to a .145 hitting percentage on the way to its fifth-straight win. Fifth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad evened up at 6-6 overall on the year. But the win didn’t come without resistance.

“It was eerily similar to last year’s match against them,” Mattera said. “They played unbelievably hard and fast. It was frustrating for a while. This match wasn’t about stats. It was about the whole team and individual kids stepping up after they had some struggles. In games three and four, Alex (La Plant) turned a switch on and that was really big for us. You saw Tiegen (Skains) miss a ball and then say give me the next one. You saw over and over, kids step up after making a mistake.”

Miscues played a part in Benedictine rolling out to a 14-7 lead in the third set. Consecutive kills followed from Paige Getz, Skains and La Plant to get Concordia back on track. Still, the Bulldogs did not gain the lead in that set until Skains’ kill made it 23-22. Moments later, even at 25-25, Skains and La Plant offered up a kill apiece – a back-breaker for the Ravens.

Concordia’s attack wore out Benedictine in the fourth set by hitting .344. Fifteen kills were spread out between eight different Bulldogs. La Plant, Emmie Noyd and Skains blasted three kills each while Garcia gave Raven attackers fits with eight fourth-set digs.

It was a return to her home state for Getz, a native of Paola, Kan. She posted 12 kills on 29 swings. Her partner in crime Skains led the team with 14 kills (34 attempts). Noyd (nine kills) and La Plant (eight kills, 16 digs) were also significant contributors for an offense spearheaded by Alayna Kavanaugh (42 assists).

Concordia ended up hitting .218 for the match with 55 kills to Benedictine’s 42. The Ravens a slight blocking advantage of 10-8. A member of the Heart of America Athletic Conference, Benedictine slumped to 4-6 overall. A year ago the Ravens stunned the Bulldogs with a four-set win inside Walz Arena.

The Bulldogs have another hectic weekend ahead with three matches scheduled at the Hastings College Classic. Concordia will play once on Friday and twice on Saturday. Friday’s lone match will take place at 7 p.m. CT versus Missouri Valley College (10-1).

Skains sizzles as Concordia pushes win streak to six
September 9, 2016 

HASTINGS, Neb. – For the second-straight outing, the Concordia University volleyball team turned the match around with a furious third-set rally. In Friday night’s tilt, the Bulldogs erased a seven-point deficit in the third set and then held off Missouri Valley College as part of a 25-22, 18-25, 25-22, 25-22, victory inside Lynn Farrell Arena on the Hastings College campus.

The Bulldogs have been rolling since returning from their Montana trip. They’re now 7-6 overall and riding a six-match win streak. The latest victory may be their most impressive with it coming over a Viking squad that entered the match with a sparkling 11-1 record.

“It’s one of those things where you don’t know whether to hug them for coming back or shake them for getting down that far,” said fifth-year head coach Scott Mattera of the third set. “That’s twice in a row that we’ve done that. I guess it shows that we can do it. That’s the positive we’re going to take from that. It’s living dangerously. Missouri Valley was 11-1 for a reason. I’m happy to get the win.”

Skains had the fastball working on Friday. Some across-net-banter helped fuel the native of Colorado Springs, who hammered 13 kills on 31 swings. It was the perfect capper when setter Alayna Kavanaugh found Skains for match point to put away a Viking team that made a comeback effort of its own in the fourth set.

When she’s right, Skains is scary good.

“Everyone was just kind of fired up and that’s when I play my best,” Skains said. “Everyone was having fun. We were playing loose and hitting the ball.”

A rash of attack errors plagued Missouri Valley after it had built a 21-14 lead in the third set. The Bulldogs rattled off eight-straight points and took a 22-21 advantage via a block from Kavanaugh and Taylor Workman. Concordia clinched the set with points 24 and 25 coming courtesy of a Naomi Quigg ace and Kavanaugh kill.

That momentum carried into the night’s final set as the Bulldogs jumped out to leads of 15-9 and 21-15 before withstanding the late push from the Vikings. Missouri Valley, which hit .158 for the match, followed up a red-hot .344 second-set hitting percentage with clips of .083 and .135, respectively, over the final two sets. Defensive specialist Jocelyn Garcia again had a fine night in the back row, piling up 23 digs.

On paper, this was Concordia’s most impressive win of the season. The Vikings’ only previous loss on the season came at the hands of Park University (Mo.), a team ranked No. 7 in this week’s NAIA coaches’ poll.

“I think we’re pretty good,” Mattera said. “I like the mentality of this team. I like the talent. I don’t know where that top end is. That’s a good thing because I think we can get so much better than what we are right now. But it’s definitely a different team than it was about 10 days ago.”

Two other Bulldogs joined Skains with double-figure kill totals: Paige Getz (10) and Workman (10). Kavanaugh also contributed seven kills in addition to 31 assists. Concordia notched seven aces from five different players. On the other side of the net, Dakota Santore totaled a match high 20 kills, though she also committed 16 attack errors.

The Bulldogs will play twice more in Hastings on Saturday with nonconference matches versus the University of Montana Western (4-4) at 12 p.m. and No. 8 MidAmerica Nazarene University (Kan.) (10-3) at 4 p.m. Concordia will attempt to lock up its first victory of the season over a top-25 opponent.

Win streak ends in display of power ball
September 10, 2016 

HASTINGS, Neb. – The win streak finally came to an end for the Concordia University volleyball team, which split a pair of matches on the second and final day of the Hastings College Invitational. The Bulldogs took care of Montana Western, 24-26, 25-22, 25-20, 25-22, in the day’s opening contest before falling at the hands of eighth-ranked MidAmerica Nazarene University (Kan.), 25-18, 22-25, 25-18, 25-18, to cap a three-match stay in Hastings.

Four of Concordia’s seven losses have now come against nationally-ranked foes. Saturday’s defeat snapped a seven-match win streak. The Bulldogs own an 8-7 overall mark.

“We were very up and down day today,” Mattera said. “We certainly brought out the best in both of our opponents. That's a compliment to them and an issue for us in that we aren't taking teams out of what they want to do. We survived the Montana Western match by making some adjustments on the fly and cleaning things up just enough to push through.”

Concordia has had no problem in recent action in regards to digging out of holes. The Bulldogs trailed Montana Western by as many as five points in the third set and six in the fourth before storming back to win in both instances. Montana Western struggled to contain Concordia from end to end. Paige Getz, who really picked up steam in the fourth set, hit .382 from the outside, Taylor Workman slugged .310 in the middle and Tiegen Skains attacked at a .290 clip from the right side.

Getz put together a big day, totaling 31 kills over the day’s eight sets. Her lasers from the outside just weren’t enough to overcome the Pioneers’ hot hitting. With star Gisele Silva (25 kills, 19 digs) unleashing bombs, MidAmerica Nazarene burned Concordia by attacking at a .354 rate. In addition, the Bulldogs were out-blocked, 9-3, in a match that displayed the power attacks of both sides.

“If you like power volleyball, that was a good match to watch,” Mattera said. “Unfortunately, while we went toe-to-toe with them power wise, they won more of the scrambles, made a few better shots and got a few blocks at key times.”

Mattera was encouraged by the solid weekend from Concordia’s strong group of attackers. Seniors Getz and Skains combined for 78 kills over the trio of matches in Hastings. Setter Alayna Kavanaugh handed out 99 more assists on Saturday.

“Tiegen and Paige were lethal on the pins today and Alex was really on for a good stretch in the MNU match,” Mattera said. “We are going to challenge anyone I the country with them hitting Iike that.”

Jocelyn Garcia compiled 50 digs, including 27 versus MidAmerica Nazarene, throughout Saturday’s action. Alex La Plant pasted 25 total kills and Workman added 23 on the day.

Conference play picks back up on Wednesday when the Bulldogs welcome College of Saint Mary (5-3, 1-1 GPAC) to Walz Arena for a 7 p.m. first serve. The last Flames visit to Walz Arena occurred in the 2015 GPAC tournament semifinal. Concordia advanced to the title match by toppling College of Saint Mary in four sets.

Garcia repeats as GPAC defensive honoree
September 13, 2016 

SEWARD, Neb. – Junior Jocelyn Garcia won the GPAC’s first defensive player of the week award (announced Sept. 6). Then she topped herself with an even bigger performance on the way to repeating as the GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Volleyball Defender of the Week, announced on Tuesday (Sept. 13) by the league. It’s the fifth career GPAC weekly honor for Garcia.

The native of Brighton, Colo., achieved a career milestone by surpassing 1,000 digs during action at the Five Points Invitational hosted by Hastings College this past weekend. Over last week’s four matches, Garcia averaged 6.5 digs while compiling 104 total digs over 16 sets played. Her 31 digs in the four-set win at Benedictine College (Kan.) were a career high. She also added four aces and passed serve receive at a 95.9 percent rate as the Bulldogs won three of four matches.

Among all NAIA players, Garcia currently ranks 12th in total digs (269) and 25th in digs per set (5.4). Garcia’s 559 digs in 2015 placed her seventh on the program’s all-time list of top single-season efforts.

Concordia (8-7, 0-1 GPAC) returns to action on Wednesday when it hosts College of Saint Mary (5-3, 1-1 GPAC). First serve is set for 7 p.m. from Walz Arena, where the Bulldogs have won 32 of their last 40 matches.

Getz, Skains lead blistering attack in first GPAC win
September 14, 2016 

SEWARD, Neb. – Pin to pin, the power game dominated for the Concordia University volleyball team in its first home GPAC match of 2016. It didn’t even seem fair at times, like when senior Tiegen Skains blistered 11 kills on her first 13 swings. The offensive showcase propelled the Bulldogs to a 25-18, 25-20, 25-21, victory over visiting College of Saint Mary on Wednesday night.

The missile firing Bulldogs hit .376 on the night and won for the eighth time in their past nine matches and for the 33rd time over their last 41 home contests. Fifth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad improved to 9-7 overall and 1-1 in conference play.

“Tiegen took three swings that she didn’t get kills on, so she really needs to step up her game,” Mattera quipped in his postgame chat on 104.9 Max Country. “Yeah, she was pretty silly tonight. Alayna (Kavanaugh) was putting her in really good position. If Tiegen’s one-on-one and has a full approach, it’s game over. That’s against anybody. We’re very happy to hit .376 against a team that’s that good defensively.”

The dynamic left and right attacking duo of Paige Getz and Skains showed no mercy while smashing passes from Kavanaugh, a fellow senior. Even when the Flames knew it was coming, they still couldn’t stop it. Kavanaugh sprayed the ball around in helping Skains rack up 12 kills (15 attempts) and facilitating 10 Getz kills (26 attacks). In the middle, Emmie Noyd needed only 10 swings to power down six kills.

Defensively, Jocelyn Garcia may not have produced the eye-popping, point-finishing highlights, but she was every bit as productive. On the heels of back-to-back GPAC defensive player of the week awards, the native of Brighton, Colo., dug up 20 more attacks.

While holding a gift for Annie Friesen, who celebrated a birthday on Wednesday, Garcia said she just wants to make this a special year for the seniors. From the back row, Garcia had a great view of the 45 kills piled up by Bulldog hitters.

“My confidence is really high with the girls,” Garcia said. “We’re just a really good team right now. With Tiegen, Paige and Alayna – I want them to have a good year. I’m just playing for them. Tiegen and Paige are on, obviously. They were getting kills left and right.”

College of Saint Mary (5-4, 1-2 GPAC) hit .120 and was topped by the 10 kills from Dani Carlson. Wednesday’s battle was a rematch of a 2015 GPAC semifinal that went in Concordia’s favor in four sets. This year’s Flames squad owns a conference win over Morningside.

Kavanaugh finished with 42 assists. Alex La Plant added nine kills and 12 digs and Taylor Workman contributed six kills. The Bulldogs hit .294 or better in all three sets, topping out at .429 in the opening set. Concordia trailed only briefly early on in the first and third sets. It rattled off the first six points of the second set.

The Bulldogs will be back at home on Saturday to continue conference action against an improving Morningside (10-2, 2-1 GPAC) program. First serve is set for 5 p.m. CT for a match that will be covered by the Concordia Sports Network. Concordia has won three-straight meetings with the Mustangs.

Bulldogs ride rollercoaster to win in GPAC nailbiter
September 17, 2016 

SEWARD, Neb. – Defeat seemed almost certain with Morningside leading the third set 24-19 on the heels of victories in the first and second sets. But the momentum shifted with an improbable comeback as the Concordia University volleyball team made it a night to remember inside Walz Arena. Paige Getz smashed 20 kills and Taylor Workman shined in big moments as the Bulldogs rallied for a 20-25, 23-25, 29-27, 25-18, 16-14 win.

Fifth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad has now won nine of its last 10 matches and stands at 10-7 overall and 2-1 in conference action. Concordia is 34-8 over its past 42 home contests.

“I’ll be honest. We’re down in game three and I’m thinking, ‘What am I going to say to them?’” Mattera said. “We were really digging a hole for ourselves. We found a way. We’re not high fiving ourselves over what we did early in that match, but you have to credit Morningside, too. They played some great volleyball.”

No one gained much in the way of separation in the dramatic fifth set. With the Bulldogs trailing 14-13, setter Alayna Kavanaugh went to her No. 1 option in Getz, who pounded the ball to the floor. A Workman ace and Mustang attack error followed and Concordia celebrated a mentally-exhausting win.

The Bulldogs fought back from the dead with an incredible third-set sequence. Getz, a senior from Paola, Kan., showed the way by blistering three-straight kills for point Nos. 23, 24 and 25, suddenly forcing a tie. Ultimately, the third set concluded when Workman surfaced with a crucial block.

This match had it all in terms of swings of emotion.

“I’m pretty wiped,” Mattera said. “It was such an emotional rollercoaster, but to pull through there was pretty special. It reminds of at Northwestern last year when we were down in that third game and came back and won. We said, ‘Boy, if we can pull this off it could be a season changer.’ This has the potential to do that same thing.”

Concordia hit .218 compared to the .205 attacking clip posted by Morningside (10-3, 2-2 GPAC). On a night when Getz received a ball commemorating her 1,000th career kill, she needed just 43 swings to pile up 20 kills. Fellow senior Tiegen Skains went for 12 kills, Alex La Plant added 11, Emmie Noyd nine and Workman eight. Alayna Kavanaugh dished out 56 assists. Workman also dropped in six aces. Defensively, Jocelyn Garcia booked 23 digs.

The improved Mustang squad was topped by the 15 kills of Jayde Bergmann. Morningside owns conference wins over Dakota Wesleyan and Briar Cliff.

The Bulldogs continue conference play on Wednesday when they make the short drive to Crete to take on 20th-ranked Doane (12-4, 2-2 GPAC). First serve is set for 7:30 p.m. CT. Doane evened up its GPAC mark on Saturday with a four-set triumph over Northwestern.

A comeback for the ages
September 19, 2016 

SEWARD, Neb. – It may not have been game 7 of the World Series, but the match that occurred on Sept. 17 could be one to circle should the Concordia University volleyball team put together the special season it seeks. For nearly three full sets, the Bulldogs were clearly outplayed and on the verge of a frustrating home loss while up against Morningside. But, you know, sports. Weird, incredible things happen.

It’s fair to call what took place miraculous. In 20 years of volleyball experience, head coach Scott Mattera had never seen anything like it. Said the fifth-year Concordia leader afterwards, “I’m still trying to figure out how we won.”

It didn’t go down anything like how the Bulldogs would have drawn it up. The Mustangs took the first two sets by scores of 25-20 and 25-23. Then in the third set, Morningside sat on the doorstep of victory with a 24-19 lead. There were six match point opportunities for the Mustangs. Somehow the Bulldogs fought off every one of them.

According to Ken Shirriff’s piece, “The Mathematics of Volleyball,” a team trailing 24-19 has about a two percent chance of winning that set. Throw in the fact that Concordia already fell in the first two sets and you get the idea just how unlikely it was for a Bulldog win.

“When it was 24-19 in the third, it’s pretty hard to believe that you can go on a 5-0 run after dropping sets 1 and 2,” said senior Tiegen Skains. “Somewhere in that run, the momentum switched and we started playing as well as we know we are capable of. It was nice to get the win, but we know we are going to have to learn how to play at our best from the very beginning.”

The tide turned in the third set when a combined block by Paige Getz and Taylor Workman cut the deficit to 24-20 (three percent chance of winning). A Morningside attack error followed, 24-21 (six percent). Workman ace, 24-22 (12 percent). Getz kill, 24-23 (25 percent). Getz kill, 24-24 (50 percent). Only a Workman service error could stop the Bulldog locomotive that had suddenly kicked into high gear. Now it was a seesaw battle. At 27-27, Concordia finally persevered thanks to a Morningside service error and another block by Workman.

Now it’s a ballgame. With setter Alayna Kavanaugh settling into a groove in the fourth set, the Bulldogs hit .278, put away 16 points on kills and forced a dramatic fifth set. During the nip-and-tuck deciding set, neither team led by more than two points.

Down 14-13, Concordia again had to fend off match point. Enter Getz for a career-high tying 20th kill. Then came an ace from Workman, her sixth of the night, followed by a Morningside attack error. The celebration was on inside Walz Arena.

But it was a different type of celebration. In recent seasons Walz Arena has played witness to monumental wins over ranked opponents and the first NAIA national championship event hosted by Concordia since 2001. None of them featured such a swing of emotions. This had it all. From almost certain defeat to the winner’s circle.

The act of wizardry marked the team’s ninth win over its past 10 outings. It could end up being the one that carries the most significance.

“Coming back from that large of a deficit and then taking care of business the next two sets just shows how maturely we can win matches,” Getz said. “I that that it was enough for us to see how good we are and move forward.”

Added Kavanaugh, “It was a crazy comeback. I didn’t even realize how crazy until after the game when I was talking to people.”

But Kavanaugh and company prefer not to follow a similar script in the future, even if Saturday’s win did make for compelling drama.

“We should have taken care of our side,” Kavanaugh admitted. “It is important to notice that we could have just sat down and lost in the third, so the fight and tenacity we had at the end of the third and then in the fourth and fifth was rewarding. I’m ready for practice on Monday so we can take care of business this week.”

In the midst of a season­-long grind, it’s easy to dismiss one match and move to the next one. But this one should not be forgotten. With the circumstances as they were in the third set, Concordia had no business winning, but it did.

"Coming back from a five-point hole (24-19) made it really easy to fight to win the next two sets," Jocelyn Garcia said. "There was no doubt in our mind after that set that we would win the match. We stepped it up, got our confidence back and balled out."

Said Mattera during his postgame interview, “We said, ‘Boy, if we can pull this off it could be a season changer.’”

The Bulldogs (10-7, 2-1 GPAC) will return to action on Wednesday with a 7:30 p.m. match at 20th-ranked Doane (12-4, 2-2 GPAC).

Garcia, Kavanaugh honored by GPAC
September 20, 2016 


SEWARD, Neb. – Junior Jocelyn Garcia is insistent upon keeping the GPAC defensive player of the week award all to herself. On Tuesday the conference named Garcia (defensive) and senior Alayna Kavanaugh (setter) as two of its three winners of the latest GPAC player of the week awards. Garcia has earned all three conference defensive weekly awards this season (six in her career). Kavanaugh has been chosen as setter of the week for the first time in 2016 and for the sixth time in her career.

Kavanaugh, a native of Roca, Neb., averaged 12.25 assists per game over last week’s GPAC home victories over College of Saint Mary and Morningside. The ultra-productive week pushed the Lincoln Christian High School product up the NAIA leaderboard to No. 7 in total assists (629) and No. 11 in assists per game (10.8). Last week Kavanaugh went past 4,000 career assists. The all-time school record is held by Stacy Stuckenschmidt, who amassed 4,949.

Garcia, who hails from Brighton, Colo., has been cleaning up in the back row for head coach Scott Mattera’s squad. Last week she averaged 5.4 digs per game over eight sets and passed serve receive at 97.8 percent. She also added an ace in the comeback win over Morningside. Among all NAIA players, Garcia ranks 16th in total digs (312) and 33rd in digs per game (5.4).

Kavanaugh, Garcia and the rest of the Bulldogs (10-7, 2-1 GPAC) return to action on Wednesday with a road trip to No. 20 Doane (12-4, 2-2 GPAC). Varsity action is slated to begin at 7:30 p.m. CT following a 6 p.m. junior varsity match.

Grueling stretch begins Wednesday for volleyball
September 20, 2016 

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University volleyball team enters this week having won nine of its last 10 matches. If the Bulldogs are to win nine of their NEXT 10 matches, well that would be something special. Of the upcoming 10 contests, eight are against current nationally-ranked teams and another one will see them take on a team receiving votes in the national poll.

Such is life in a conference that includes two of the top four squads in the NAIA, four total ranked teams and another three listed as receiving votes. One of those teams again receiving votes is Concordia, which has responded nicely from a 1-6 start to the season. Fifth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad is now 10-7 overall and 2-1 in conference play.

The Bulldogs are fresh off a wild, come-from-behind win over Morningside, but they remain in search of that signature victory over a top-25 opponent. This week provides opportunity to change that. Concordia will play at No. 17 Doane (12-4, 2-2 GPAC) at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday before hosting No. 9 Dordt (9-3, 2-1 GPAC) at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

The Bulldogs would love to duplicate their play from last year’s trip to Crete, where they held Doane to .035 hitting in a straight-sets victory. Concordia has won the last two times its ventured to Crete and has taken three of the last four in the series with the Tigers. Doane’s 2016 resume includes wins over four ranked opponents, with the highest being No. 14 Lourdes University (Ohio). Doane senior outside hitter Kaitlin Bradley smashes nearly four kills per game.

Dordt moved into the top 10 of the national poll this week. Its only losses have come at the hands of teams currently ranked in the top 20 nationally. The Defenders picked up a key nonconference win on Sept. 10 when it outlasted then No. 9 Grand View University (Iowa) in a five-set match. Known as a big, powerful team, Dordt ranks fourth in the NAIA in kills per game (13.8) and 12th in hitting percentage (.254).

On Tuesday, both Jocelyn Garcia and Alayna Kavanaugh picked up GPAC player of the week awards. Garcia, a junior defensive specialist, has garnered all three GPAC defensive player of the week honors handed out in 2016. Last week Kavanaugh surpassed 4,000 assists during a distinguished career that has seen her twice earn first team all-conference accolades. Kavanaugh has facilitated one of the top pin-hitting duos in the league in seniors Paige Getz and Tiegen Skains. Last week Getz hit over .300 from the outside while piling up 30 total kills.

Live webcasts will be available for both of this week’s matches. View Wednesday’s match at Doane HERE. The Concordia Sports Network will carry Saturday’s tilt with Dordt. Max Country (104.9 FM) will be present on Wednesday. Frank Greene will call the action.

Bulldogs stumble at No. 17 Doane
September 21, 2016 

CRETE, Neb. – Four days after a miraculous comeback victory over Morningside, the Concordia University volleyball team experienced the other side of a five-set battle. Host and 17th-ranked Doane came alive in the third, fourth and fifth sets and rallied for a 24-26, 27-29, 25-20, 25-22, 15-7, win inside the Haddix Center in Crete, Neb.

The Bulldogs had hoped to win at Doane for the third-straight time. Instead, fifth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad missed out on another opportunity to knock off a ranked opponent. Concordia fell to 10-8 overall and 2-2 in conference play.

“We got what we earned tonight,” Mattera said. “We’ve got some things we need to take care of, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

The Tigers (13-4, 3-2 GPAC) were like a different team after the first two sets. Concordia didn’t have an answer for the likes of Kaitlin Bradley (25 kills) and Maci Coffey (16 kills). Doane played power ball in flooring 19 kills in third set, 17 in the fourth and nine in the fifth. Bradley and company hit .382 or better in each of the final three sets.

The Tigers shrugged it off after dropping two intense battles in the first and second sets. Senior Paige Getz, who continues to see her star rise, ended up with a team high 15 kills. She was especially hot early on. She put away the tension-filled second set with a kill that seemingly gave Concordia all the momentum.

But not much went right the rest of the way, save for Tiegen Skains’ bombs on the right side. Skains kept the Bulldogs in it in the third and fourth sets. She struck for 13 kills while hitting .417 on the night.

Doane just had more firepower. It hit .318 for the match compared to a .163 clip for Concordia.

Senior Alayna Kavanaugh, named GPAC setter of the week, dished out 39 assists. Jocelyn Garcia collected 17 digs. Raymi Marquardt added 13. The Bulldogs out-blocked the Tigers, 9-6. Taylor Workman was part of four blocks.

The Bulldogs will get ready for another nationally-ranked opponent with No. 9 Dordt (10-3, 3-1 GPAC) coming into town on Saturday. First serve is set for 3 p.m. CT from Walz Arena.

New-look Bulldogs downed by No. 9 Dordt
September 24, 2016 

SEWARD, Neb. – Missing some key pieces on Saturday, the Concordia University volleyball team faced a stiff challenge on Saturday afternoon when No. 9 Dordt invaded Walz Arena. The Defenders lived up to their nickname in holding the Bulldogs to a -.010 attacking percentage in the process of winning, 25-18, 25-17, 25-22.

It was a rare home defeat for fifth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s program, which is now 34-9 over its last 43 home matches. While Dordt took the first two sets in impressive fashion, Concordia (10-9, 2-3 GPAC) responded with a strong showing in the final set.

“We’re never going to be happy with a loss, but we showed in that third game who we can be,” Mattera said. “We got in the huddle there and said, ‘That felt like us again.’ They were having a blast, being goofy and fighting hard. That’s who we have to be.”

With two-time first team all-conference setter Alayna Kavanaugh sidelined by injury, freshman Emma Brand made her first career start. The Bulldogs have also been without the services of 2015 first team all-league selection Annie Friesen, who had surgery this week on her knee. Not only that, freshman middle Emmie Noyd was also unable to answer the bell.

Those situations necessitated some tinkering by Mattera, who used Mikayla Higgins extensively on the outside. He also tried some new looks in the middle with Paige Getz, Jenna Habegger and Tiegen Skains moving inside at times.

Considering the opponent and the lineup changes, Mattera termed it a “nothing to lose” type of match.

“I’m proud of the fight, especially in the third game,” Mattera said. “This was Emma’s first start of her career. You could see her get more and more comfortable as the match went on. She was awfully good in that third set. She really starting connecting with Taylor (Workman). Then you think about it. We had Annie and Emmie out. We asked Tiegen, Paige and ‘Hobbs’ to play middle, and they’ve never played middle before in college.”

Defensively, Concordia more than held its own against a Dordt team that entered the match ranked 13th nationally in hitting percentage. The Defenders (11-3, 4-1 GPAC) hit only .146 on Saturday, though they put 39 points away via kills. Nine of those kills came from Ema Altena. Haley Moss was their most efficient attacker, going for six kills on 11 swings.

Brand dished out 17 assists in taking over the setter role. Workman topped the Bulldogs with five kills to go along with her four blocks. Four kills apiece came from Getz and freshman Alex La Plant.

Up next is a trip to play No. 4 Hastings (13-2, 4-1 GPAC) at 7:30 p.m. CT on Wednesday. The Broncos’ lone GPAC loss came at home to No. 1 Midland. Max Country (104.9 FM) will have the call on Wednesday.

Injury-riddled Dogs go down fighting at No. 4 Hastings
September 28, 2016 

HASTINGS, Neb. – A treacherous road trip was made even more challenging by the continued absences of key figures for the Concordia University volleyball team. Fourth-ranked Hastings cut right through the visiting Bulldogs, 25-11, 25-11, 22-25, 25-21, on Wednesday night. The Broncos bashed Concordia with an eye-popping .469 hitting percentage through the first two sets while pushing their winning streak to eight.

Fifth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad has dropped three-straight GPAC matches, all to teams ranked inside the top 20 of the national rankings. The Bulldogs are now 10-10 overall and 2-4 in conference play.

“We just were not in rhythm at all those first two games,” Mattera said in a postgame interview with 104.9 Max Country. “We switched back to something we were a little bit more comfortable with and we had a really good talk in the locker room. The easy choice was to mail it in in the third and say, ‘It’s not our night.’ That’s not who we are.”

Concordia showed grit by bouncing back after suffering lopsided defeats in the first and second sets. The Bulldogs finally figured out a way to contain the Bronco attack, which hit just .098 in the third game. Concordia put down only seven kills in the third, but scrapped and clawed to extend the match.

Senior Tiegen Skains, on the eve of her birthday, shined most brightly among Bulldog individuals. She floored 13 kills to equal Hastings’ Logan Dureppel for a match high. Skains hit .458 while working with freshman setter Emma Brand, who made her second-straight start in place of the injured Alayna Kavanaugh. Paige Getz also chipped in seven kills.

Drueppel needed only 25 swings to pile up her 13 kills. Sage Meyer put down 11 kills and Katie Placke hit .409 with 10 kills for the victors, whose only loss over their past 10 outings came at the hands of top-ranked Midland.

Hastings (14-2, 5-1 GPAC) ended up with an overall hitting percentage of .304 compared to a .099 clip for Concordia.

With the injuries mounting in the middle, Mattera rotated Mikayla Higgins in at that spot on Wednesday. Freshman middle Emmie Noyd missed her second-straight match, also due to injury.

The Bulldogs hope to get back on track on Saturday when they host Briar Cliff (8-7, 2-4 GPAC) for a 3 p.m. CT match (junior varsity at 1:30). The Chargers received votes in the most recent NAIA coaches’ poll.

New Brand of Bulldogs powers down Chargers
October 1, 2016 

SEWARD, Neb. – Freshman Emma Brand found her happy place on Saturday afternoon and the Concordia University volleyball team gutted out tension-filled second and third sets on the way to a 25-20, 29-27, 29-27, victory over visiting Briar Cliff. Brand tossed up 41 assists in spearheading a win that snapped the Bulldogs out of a three-match skid.

Fifth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad climbed back above .500 at 11-10 overall. Concordia is 3-4 in conference play.

“We faced some adversity, but we responded well every time,” Mattera said. “When they made a play or there was controversy, we moved on and responded to it really well. That was really cool.”

The contest seemed destined for a fourth set when the Chargers mounted a 20-12 lead in the third. That’s when the Bulldogs put together a monstrous rally that saw them pull off nine of the next 10 points to tie it at 21-21. From there it was a fight to the finish. Knotted at 27-27, Brand found Tiegen Skains for a kill and then Taylor Workman for another as Walz Arena erupted.

It was a big-time performance from Brand, who has taken on the setter role since senior Alayna Kavanaugh suffered an injury on the very final play of the loss at No. 17 Doane on Sept. 21.

“I’m definitely more comfortable now,” Brand said. “I’m more comfortable around the girls and setting different paces. I’m getting a feel for the game. Today it felt great. The girls have really helped build me up. We’re having fun as a team. It was just really awesome.”

Brand also teed up Workman’s kill that ended the second set. The Workman thunder in the middle immediately followed both a kill and an ace by freshman Alex La Plant. Brand’s distribution was superb as four different Bulldogs recorded eight or more kills: Paige Getz (15), La Plant (12), Workman (9) and Skains (8). Mikayla Higgins, who also saw time in the middle, contributed six kills on 12 swings.

“This was the best match of her career,” Mattera said of Brand. “When you go for 41 assists in three games, that’s a big number.”

Junior Jocelyn Garcia, already a three-time GPAC defensive player of the week this season, racked up 21 digs from her spot in the middle of the back row. La Plant added 14 digs and freshman Jenna Eller pitched in with 10. Behind a solid defensive effort, Concordia outhit Briar Cliff, .203 to .172.

Like the Bulldogs, the Chargers (8-8, 2-5 GPAC) received votes in the most recent NAIA national coaches’ poll. Briar Cliff got a team high 10 kills from Katelin Langel. The Chargers were sturdy at the net, registering 10 blocks, four of which came from Teerstyn Johnson.

Saturday’s effort was encouraging following a string of matches against top 25 opponents.

“We’ve definitely had some adversity, especially in the past couple of weeks,” Brand said. “Today we just decided we’re going to come out and have fun, play this game we love and play for each other and for God. Today was awesome.”

The Bulldogs will break from conference play on Wednesday for another challenging road trip when they take on No. 18 Bellevue University (16-7). First serve is set for 7 p.m. CT. The Bruins, a member of the NAIA’s North Star Athletic Association, have four wins over ranked foes to their credit. In last season’s meeting, Concordia took care of Bellevue in four sets.

Concordia attack shut down at No. 20 Bellevue
October 5, 2016 

BELLEVUE, Neb. – Inside the cozy Gordon Lozier Athletic Center, host and 20th-ranked Bellevue University protected its home court impressively while up against the Concordia University volleyball team in Bellevue, Neb., on Wednesday night. The Bruins sent the Bulldogs on their way with a 25-21, 25-14, 25-15 defeat.

Fifth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad fell despite the return from injury of two key players in setter Alayna Kavanaugh and middle Emmie Noyd. The team’s eighth loss of the season at the hands of a ranked opponent put Concordia at 11-11 overall.

The Bulldogs were unable to maintain the level of play they had in Saturday’s home win over Briar Cliff.

“Every facet of our game needs to be better than that, especially our energy and our teamwork,” Mattera said. “The physical effort was there, but our mental effort was not at all. I’ve got to prepare them better. We’ll figure it out.”

Bellevue proved especially dominant over the second and third sets. A strong Bruin defensive effort resulted in Concordia putting up more attack errors (25) than kills (24) on the night. Concordia hit in the red (-.010) over the course of the match while being stonewalled by 11 Bellevue blocks.

Kavanaugh started and played the opening two sets before being replaced in the third by Emma Brand, who dished out 41 assists in the Bulldogs’ win three days earlier. On a tough night for Concordia attackers, Tiegen Skains topped the team with seven kills. Paige Getz added six. Defensively, Jocelyn Garcia tracked down 19 digs.

On the other side of the net, Pakalana Helekahi showed off a powerful swing on the outside, registering seven kills on 16 attempts for a Bellevue team that hit .200. Shayla Scanlan put down eight kills. Scanlon was also involved in six of the team’s 11 blocks. Verenice Chaparro paced the Bruin back row with 14 digs.

The Bulldogs now look forward to a challenging weekend. They will place twice in Orange City, Iowa, on Saturday, beginning with a 1 p.m. CT match versus host Northwestern (12-12, 4-3 GPAC). Concordia will then take on undefeated and second-ranked Westmont College (Calif.) (19-0) at 3 p.m. Both matches will be held on the Northwestern campus.

Concordia falls twice in Orange City
October 8, 2016 

ORANGE CITY, Iowa – The Concordia University volleyball team pushed second-ranked and undefeated Westmont College (Calif.) to four sets as part of action at the Bultman Center in Orange City, Iowa, on Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs ultimately left empty handed after falling to host Northwestern, 25-18, 25-15, 25-19, and then to Westmont, 25-21, 22-25, 25-22, 25-15.

The Warriors (22-0) were the sixth top-10 team that fifth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad has faced in 2016. Concordia is now 11-13 overall with nine of its losses coming against ranked opponents.

“I liked our effort and togetherness in this match,” Mattera said of the effort versus Westmont. “We played with nothing to lose and had fun battling against a very talented team. We took game two and had real opportunities in one and three. We might have run out of gas a bit at the end of a long day in game four, but I'm proud of the effort. Now we need to take this nothing-to-lose attitude and play that free and loose down the stretch. If we can do that while getting healthy we can be a very strong contender down the stretch.”

During their brightest moment of the day, the Bulldogs held the nation’s eighth most efficient hitting team to an attack percentage of .182 in the second set of action versus Westmont. Senior Paige Getz, who piled up 24 kills on the day, put away two crucial points late in the set, including point No. 24. The Warriors responded in a big way. They hit .393 in the fourth set to stamp out Concordia’s upset bid.

Mattera felt a lack of aggression in his team’s serve and pass game allowed Northwestern to get too comfortable on the attack. The Red Raiders (13-13, 5-4 GPAC) hit .330 on the afternoon. Lauryn Hilger had a field day, going for 18 kills on 34 swings. Getz registered 10 kills for a Bulldog team that hit .174 versus Northwestern. Said Mattera, “Paige put some really good swings on the ball and did a great job of staying positive throughout.”

Senior Taylor Workman enjoyed a solid day in the middle. She totaled 16 kills on 30 attacks for the day. Junior Jocelyn Garcia contributed 27 digs.

The Bulldogs will face another significant challenge on Wednesday when top-ranked Midland (17-1, 7-1 GPAC) makes its way to Walz Arena. First serve is set for 7:30 p.m. CT. The Warriors suffered their first defeat of the season on Wednesday when third-ranked Hastings upset them in Fremont. Wednesday’s contest will be a rematch of the 2015 GPAC tournament championship match that went in Midland’s favor.

Top-ranked Midland invades Walz on Wednesday
October 11, 2016 

SEWARD, Neb. – According to Massey Ratings, the Concordia University volleyball team has played the 16th most challenging schedule among the 217 volleyball programs in the NAIA. That strength of schedule number figures to move higher after the Bulldogs complete this week’s slate, which includes Wednesday’s 7:30 p.m. CT home match with No. 1 Midland (18-1, 8-1 GPAC) and Saturday’s 5 p.m. contest at No. 11 Dordt (13-5, 6-2 GPAC).

Based on the most recent poll, fifth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad has already played teams ranked Nos. 1, 2, 3, 6, T-11, T-11, 15, 17, 20 and 25. While the Bulldogs have dipped below .500 at 11-13 overall and 3-5 in conference play, Mattera hopes his team is regaining its health for a late-season push.

As it stands right now, Concordia sits in seventh place in a conference that features an eight-team postseason bracket. The Bulldogs are still trying to recapture the magic they had last season when they tied for fourth in the conference and advanced to the GPAC tournament championship match and then the national tournament.

It will take a spirited effort to upset Midland on Wednesday inside what Concordia expects to be a hyper-charged Walz Arena. The Warriors are a perfect 14-0 away from home this season. They’re a powerful team that sports impressive national ranks: fifth in kills per game (13.9) and 11th in hitting percentage (.258). Head coach Paul Giesselmann’s biggest star is middle Priscilla O’Dowd, who ranks fifth nationally with a .394 hitting percentage.

Concordia and Midland opened up their GPAC schedules against each other on Aug. 31 in Fremont. The Warriors hit .327 and won, 25-21, 25-21, 25-19. O’Dowd went wild for 15 kills on 25 swings. The Bulldogs were topped by nine kills from Paige Getz.

Saturday will also mark the second meeting of this season between the Bulldogs and the Defenders. Dordt also features a dominant middle in Brooke Granstra, who averages 4.1 kills per game and has hit .365 for a Defender squad that pushed No. 2 Westmont College (Calif.) to five sets last week. Dordt came to Seward and won, 25-18, 25-17, 25-22, on Sept. 24.

Getz should easily climb to No. 4 on the program’s all-time kills list this week. Last week she moved ahead of Darcy Lindner (1,204) for fifth place. With 1,219 kills over her four-year Bulldog career, the native of Paola, Kan., needs just five more to move in front of Renae Beikmann (1,223). The top three on the list are Becky Ernstmeyer (1,740), Katie Werner (1,600) and Rachel Kirchner (1,315).

Three Bulldogs rank among the top five GPAC players in major statistical categories. Jenna Eller is No. 1 in aces per game (0.6), Jocelyn Garcia ranks third in digs per game (5.1) and Alayna Kavanaugh checks in at No. 3 in assists per game (10.1).

Wednesday’s match will be carried live by the Concordia Sports Network. Frank Greene will call the action for 104.9 Max Country.

Bulldogs fall in four sets to top-ranked Midland
October 12, 2016 

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University volleyball team blazed in the second set, but failed to maintain their level of play while up against top-ranked Midland on Wednesday night. The Warriors cooled down the Bulldogs and waltzed out of Walz Arena with a 25-16, 15-25, 25-20, 25-20 victory.

The contest marked the 10th of the season against a ranked opponent for fifth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad. The Bulldogs fell to 11-14 overall and 3-6 in conference play.

“It seems to be that we can pull that off for one (set) and it really looks good and we show what we’re capable of,” Mattera said. “But we’re just not tough enough right now to do it all the time. We’ve got to get back to the gym and work harder. We’ve shown that we can play with anybody, but just playing with them doesn’t put wins on the board.”

Concordia displayed how dangerous it can be when it plays at its peak. That’s exactly what happened in the second set when the Bulldogs hit .400 behind five kills apiece by seniors Paige Getz and Tiegen Skains. The Bulldogs flustered the Warriors by jumping out to a 6-0 lead after dropping the first set. Included in that run were three Taylor Workman aces. Skains ended the second with a kill to bring Walz to an uproar.

Though it was off its game at times on Wednesday, Midland (19-1, 9-1 GPAC) showed why it rose to a No. 1 national ranking. The Warriors again leaned upon one of the nation’s top hitters in Priscilla O’Dowd, who pulverized 19 kills on 35 swings. She had more than one-third of the team’s 47 kills. Midland outhit Concordia, .223 to .179.

“Midland’s very good,” Mattera said. “They didn’t play their best tonight, but they made plays when they needed to. That’s the mark of that maturity and consistency that we need to get to. I think our ‘A’ game is just about as good as anybody.”

Getz was hot early on, putting down 10 of her team high 12 kills over the opening two sets. In doing so, Getz climbed to No. 4 on Concordia’s all-time kills list with 1,231. She also contributed two blocks to the team’s total of nine. Skains was also solid at the net, producing 10 kills and five blocks.

The Warriors completed a regular-season sweep of the Bulldogs. Midland also topped Concordia in straight sets in Fremont as part of the GPAC opener for both sides. Head coach Paul Giesselmann’s squad suffered its only loss of the season on Oct. 5 versus No. 3 Hastings.

Alayna Kavanaugh dished out a total of 38 assists. Workman and freshman Jenna Eller combined for all seven of Concordia’s aces. Junior Jocelyn Garcia paced the team with 15 digs.

The Bulldogs get another shot at a ranked opponent on Saturday when they head east for a matchup with No. 11 Dordt (14-5, 7-2 GPAC). First serve is set for 5 p.m. CT from Sioux Center, Iowa.

First set rally turns tide against Bulldogs at Dordt
October 15, 2016 

SIOUX CENTER, Iowa – The air came out of the balloon for the Concordia University volleyball team on Saturday evening after it watched a late first-set lead slip away at 11th-ranked Dordt. The rally in the first set carried the Defenders to a 26-24, 25-18, 25-12, win over the upset-minded Bulldogs.

Fifth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad dropped a match versus a ranked opponent for the 11th time in 2016. Concordia slipped to 11-15 overall and to 3-7 in GPAC action.

“We played really well in the first game,” Mattera said. “We were having fun and going after it. We got stuck in a rotation at the end of it and they came back and stole the first game from us. Game two we played OK. Game three we lost our edge. Dordt played awesome. That’s definitely a top 10 team.

“It’s been the same story quite a bit lately. It’s getting frustrating to tell that story. We’re not playing bad volleyball, we’re just not winning right now. We still have some opportunities ahead of us.”

The Bulldogs appeared to take control of the first set when they rattled off six of seven points to break what had been a 17-17 tie. It was 23-18 after Tiegen Skains delivered a kill. Concordia still had a chance to stave off Dordt after Alex La Plant floored a kill that gave Concordia a 24-22 lead. That’s when Brooke Granstra did her best work. She put away point Nos. 23, 25 and 26 to turn the momentum.

One of the top attacking teams in the nation, Dordt ignited and hit .412 in the second set. It also showed it could stifle Bulldog hitters, who recorded only four kills in the third set. On the night, the Defenders outhit Concordia, .307 to -.100.

Statistically, junior Jocelyn Garcia enjoyed the best night of any Bulldog. She tracked down 20 Dordt attacks as Concordia did a commendable job limiting Granstra after her clutch play down the stretch in the opening set. Offensively, Concordia was paced by the six kills apiece from Paige Getz and Taylor Workman. La Plant chipped in five kills and Alayna Kavanaugh dished out 17 assists.

Julia Lindbergh topped Dordt (15-5, 8-2 GPAC) with 11 kills. Haley Moss registered seven kills on just 10 swings. The Defenders got six block assists from both Moss and Elizabeth Kiel and outnumbered the Bulldogs, 9-4, in blocks.

Another ranked opponent will invade Walz Arena on Wednesday when No. 15 Doane (18-5, 7-3 GPAC) pays a visit to Seward. The varsity contest is slated for 7:30 p.m. CT. It will be Concordia’s “Pink Out” match. Pink-Out T-shirts can be purchased at the student life office this coming Monday through Wednesday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Part of the proceeds from the shirt sales will go to Pink Bandanas, a non-profit that serves Nebraska families affected by breast cancer. The Bulldogs will attempt to earn a season split with the rival Tigers.

Pink-out match serves as week's only contest for Bulldogs
October 17, 2016 

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University volleyball program’s annual pink night is set for Wednesday night when No. 15 Doane visits Walz Arena for a rivalry clash. The varsity match at 7:30 p.m. CT will follow the junior varsity contest.

Pink-Out T-shirts can be purchased at the student life office until Wednesday at 5 p.m. Shirts will also be sold on the concourse before and during the match. Part of the proceeds from the shirt sales will go to Pink Bandanas, a non-profit that serves Nebraska families affected by breast cancer.

Fifth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad hopes to put behind its recent struggles against nationally-ranked opponents. The Bulldogs have dropped eight of their last nine outings with seven of those losses coming at the hands of teams ranked inside the top 20. At times Concordia has flashed the type of powerful play that helped it reach the national tournament in 2015. Since Sept. 28, the Bulldogs have managed to take one set each from No. 1 Midland, No. 2 Westmont College (Calif.) and No. 4 Hastings.

From an individual perspective, senior outside hitter Paige Getz has been a constant for the Bulldogs. She is on track for her fourth-straight season of more than 300 kills. The native of Paola, Kan., has risen to No. 4 on the program’s list of all-time kills leaders. Her 1,237 career kills trail only Becky Ernstmeyer (1,740), Katie Werner (1,600) and Rachel Kirchner (1,315). Kirchner (now Rachel Miller) is a member of Mattera’s staff and was previously Concordia’s head coach.

Last week freshman Alex La Plant became the third Bulldog to eclipse 200 kills on the year. Getz is the team leader with 281 kills. Tiegen Skains (223 kills) has a shot to reach 300 kills in a season for the first time in her career. Her 764 career kills are second only to Getz among current Bulldogs. Taylor Workman needs 25 more kills to get to 200 for the second year in a row.

The Bulldogs nearly took down Doane in Crete in this season’s first meeting, which took place on Sept. 21. Concordia took the first two sets before the Tigers got on a roll behind Kaitlin Bradley (25 kills on 51 swings). Doane won in five sets despite 15 kills from Getz and 13 from Skains.

The Tigers (19-5, 8-3 GPAC) are aiming for their first national tournament berth since 2012. Bradley averages 3.5 kills per set (46th in the nation) for a squad that ranks 28th in the NAIA in hitting percentage (.229).

Over the past nine outings, Concordia has dropped matches against teams that were ranked Nos. 1, 2, 4, 9, 11, 17 and 20 at the date of play. Of the Bulldogs’ 15 defeats, 11 have come against top 25 foes. Seven of those 11 were ranked inside the top 10. Heading into this week’s action, MasseyRatings.com lists Concordia’s schedule as the eighth toughest out of 222 NAIA volleyball programs.

The Bulldogs (11-15, 3-7 GPAC) have a rare weekend off before returning to action on Wednesday, Oct. 26 at College of Saint Mary (6-12, 2-8 GPAC). First serve is set for 7 p.m. CT.

This Wednesday’s match will be carried by the Concordia Sports Network and by 104.9 Max Country.

Bulldogs blitzed by No. 16 Doane
October 19, 2016 

SEWARD, Neb. – Unlike the first meeting that went to five sets in Crete, the Concordia University volleyball team provided little resistance on Wednesday’s tilt inside Walz Arena. Visiting and 16th-ranked Doane spoiled the Bulldogs’ pink out match by winning impressively, 25-12, 25-14, 25-16. The Tigers hit a scalding hot .437 for the match.

Fifth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad lost for the sixth-straight outing and slipped to 11-16 overall and 3-8 in conference play. Concordia is currently tied for seventh place in the GPAC standings.

“We needed a better performance than that. We just didn’t give it,” Mattera said. “That’s one of those where you go back to the drawing board. We didn’t put enough pressure on them. I mean, .437. Doane played fantastically well, but we didn’t put any pressure on them at all. I’m really disappointed. There’s no other way to put it.”

The red hot Tigers (20-5, 9-3 GPAC) have now won nine of their last 10 matches. They ran over the Bulldogs by hitting .457 in the first set, .483 in the second and .348 in the third. It was a field day for Doane attackers such as Shelbi Mlynczak (13 kills on 24 swings) and Maci Coffey (eight kills on 15 attempts). Setter Alex Neff piled up 35 assists.

On the other side of the net, Concordia managed to hit only .133. Senior Paige Getz was held to three kills (four errors). Freshman Alex La Plant paced the Bulldogs with seven kills. Sophomore Jenna Habegger did nice work late, flooring three kills on seven swings. Freshman middle Emmie Noyd registered four kills on eight attacks.

Concordia has struggled to put wins on the board while playing a schedule that Massey Ratings ranks as one of the 10 toughest in the nation. The Bulldogs have now dropped 12 matches against nationally-ranked opponents.

The Bulldogs now enjoy a rare weekend off before returning to action next Wednesday (Oct. 26) for a GPAC road contest at College of Saint Mary (6-13, 2-9 GPAC). Just six matches remain on the 2016 regular-season schedule, which culminates at Morningside on Nov. 5.

Bulldogs rekindle the fire at CSM
October 26, 2016 

OMAHA, Neb. – The Concordia University volleyball team needed a spark. The victorious dogfight of a second set gave the Bulldogs exactly the injection of confidence they sought and carried them to a 21-25, 29-27, 25-16, 32-30 win over host College of Saint Mary in Omaha on Wednesday night.

A weekend off gave fifth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad a chance to recalibrate and recharge while attempting to snap out of a funk. In a fight for its postseason life, Concordia rose to the occasion and improved to 12-16 overall and to 4-8 in conference play.

“We were together through the whole thing, and that’s something I wouldn’t have said last week with the way we played,” Mattera said. “Even though we weren’t playing very clean (in the first set), we had each other’s back during that. Because we stayed together we were able to figure it out and that was a really cool thing to see.”

It was a fine night for freshman middle Emmie Noyd whose eighth and final kill resulted in match point in an intense fourth set. Noyd finished with eight kills on 19 swings while adding seven total blocks (two solos). She was the ringleader for a defensive effort that stuffed College of Saint Mary with 13 blocks. The Flames hit only .067 for the match.

“How about Emmie tonight? She’s really starting to come into her own,” Mattera said. “This was her best blocking performance by far. She’s getting up on time and getting to the ball. They had no answer for her in the middle when we had her in rhythm.”

This version of Concordia looked more like the team it had hoped to be all season in terms of its play on the attack. Senior Alayna Kavanaugh, who snuck in set point in the second, put up 44 assists for an offense that hit .235. She found three different teammates for double-figure kill totals: Tiegen Skains (13), Paige Getz (12) and Alex La Plant (12).

In addition, Taylor Workman collaborated on six blocks and Jocelyn Garcia tracked down 25 attacks in the back row. Garcia’s work helped limit College of Saint Mary top hitter Dani Carlson to a .095 attack percentage. The Flames’ highest hitting percentage of any set was .143 in the first.

It was essential for Concordia to come through as it did in tight spots on Wednesday having entered the match with six-straight losses. The Bulldogs sit in seventh place as they continue their push to qualify for the eight-team GPAC tournament that begins on Nov. 8.

The Bulldogs will return home on Saturday for a pair of matches inside Walz Arena. The first will get underway at 11:30 a.m. CT with Central Christian College (Kan.) (7-20) serving as the opponent. Then at 5 p.m., Concordia will get back to league action and host Dakota Wesleyan (16-12, 3-10 GPAC). The capper of the varsity triangular will be used to celebrate senior day.

Volleyball to honor eight seniors on Saturday
October 27, 2016

SEWARD, Neb. – It will be Senior Day on Saturday when the Concordia University volleyball program hosts both Central Christian College (Kan.) and Dakota Wesleyan. The Senior Day ceremony will take place prior to the day’s final match, which is set for a 5 p.m. CT first serve. The nonconference tussle with Central Christian will get underway at 11:30 a.m.

Saturday, Oct. 29
11:30 a.m. – Concordia vs. Central Christian
1:30 p.m. – Central Christian vs. Dakota Wesleyan
3:30 p.m. – Concordia vs. Dakota Wesleyan (JV)
5 p.m. – Concordia vs. Dakota Wesleyan

The senior class has helped lift the program to new heights. In terms of productivity, seniors Paige Getz, Alayna Kavanaugh, Tiegen Skains and Taylor Workman have headlined the class of eight that will be recognized on Saturday. Kavanaugh is the most decorated based on career awards. She’s a two-time first team all-conference and last season was named to the AVCA-NAIA West Central All-Region team and chosen as an honorable mention All-America selection. The Lincoln Christian High School product has amassed 4,232 assists as a four-year starter at setter.

Kavanaugh has facilitated pin hitters Getz and Skains on the attack throughout their careers. The two have combined for more than 2,000 career kills. Getz’s 1,252 career kills rank as the fourth highest total in the program’s history. She could yet rise as high as third if she can pass current assistant coach Rachel (Kirchner) Miller (1,315). Workman has also been a force in the middle. In her four seasons at Concordia, she’s racked up 721 kills and 274 blocks while hitting .306.

The senior class owns a four-year record of 75-51 with the high point being a 26-9 record and national tournament berth in 2015. Last season’s squad also advanced all the way to the GPAC tournament championship match. At 12-16 overall in 2016, the Bulldogs will need a late season run to produce a fourth-straight winning season. Additional members of the senior class include Mikayla Higgins, Hannah Oberle, Naomi Quigg and Allison Wiebe.

Fifth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad got back on track on Wednesday with a four-set victory at College of Saint Mary. The win snapped a six-match losing streak. Three Bulldogs registered double-figure kill totals: Skains (13), Getz (12) and freshman Alex La Plant (12). Freshman Emmie Noyd enjoyed a nice night, contributing eight kills and seven blocks. Kavanaugh dished out 44 assists and Jocelyn Garcia recorded 25 digs.

Central Christian, a NAIA Independent, sports a record of 7-20. Outside hitter Kasi Kraus is the Tigers’ leading hitter with 228 kills. Meanwhile, Dakota Wesleyan (16-12, 3-9 GPAC) is on schedule to end a lengthy run of consecutive losing seasons. The Tigers were beaten in straight sets by No. 10 Dordt on Wednesday.

Just three matches will remain on the regular-season schedule following Saturday’s action. The Bulldogs will return to Walz on Wednesday, Nov. 2 to host No. 2 Hastings (21-2, 12-1 GPAC). The Broncos are a game up on No. 3 Midland in the race for the GPAC regular-season title. The top eight teams in the final conference standings will advance to the GPAC tournament, which will get underway on Nov. 8.

Senior class celebrates senior day in style
October 30, 2016 

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University volleyball senior class celebrated senior day by picking up the 76th and 77th wins of their four-year careers on Saturday. After mopping the floor with Central Christian College (Kan.) in a straight-sets match that began in the morning, the Bulldogs outlasted Dakota Wesleyan in a five-set offensive showcase to cap the action inside Walz Arena.

Senior pin hitters Paige Getz and Tiegen Skains combined for 71 kills on the day and fellow senior Alayna Kavanaugh dished out a career best 76 assists in the Dakota Wesleyan match alone. That firepower helped fifth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad improve to 14-16 overall and to 5-8 in the GPAC.

“That’s a nice win over a really good team,” Mattera said following the Dakota Wesleyan match. “You absolutely see how they took Midland to five and they took Northwestern to five.”

The Bulldogs put away 82 total kills and hit .310 while edging Dakota Wesleyan (17-13, 3-11 GPAC). This match was all about offense. Skains hit .400 and floored a career high 26 kills. Getz attacked at a .328 clip and hammered a career best 24 kills. In the middle, Taylor Workman was nearly unstoppable, going for 16 kills on 28 swings.

The seniors just weren’t willing to lose on this day. Fittingly, the Bulldogs celebrated match point after Getz, serving for the first time all night, dropped in an ace that scraped the net and dropped in.

“I didn’t want to just shank it out on that one,” said Getz, who pointed out that it was the first ace of her career. Added Skains in a postgame exchange involving all four of the star seniors, “She got it over – but barely.”

The night cap had all the drama and entertainment anyone could ask for. Concordia nearly put together an improbable rally to win the third set after it trailed 24-19. But Dakota Wesleyan fended the Bulldogs off and won it, 33-31. Both teams hit better than .340 in that set. Even in defeat, Tigers Lauren Tadlock (29 kills) and Rebecca Frick (16 kills) posted gaudy numbers themselves.

Concordia persevered, dominated the fourth set (25-16) and set the stage for a tension-filled fifth. In that fifth game, the Bulldogs built a 10-6 lead only to watch Dakota Wesleyan come back to grab a 14-13 advantage. Enter Skains with her 26th kill followed by a Tiger attack error. Getz then surfaced with the match-clinching ace that no one expected.

“The biggest thing is that we had a lot of fun,” Kavanaugh said. “That’s the most fun we’ve had all year. We were all smiling and loose.”

The opening match of the day didn’t take long. Concordia took out Central Christian, 25-14, 25-15, 25-15. Skains starred by hitting .467 on her way to a match high 13 kills. With seven kills in the contest, Getz passed 300 for the season, something she’s accomplished every year as a Bulldog. Alex La Plant and Emmie Noyd also added eight kills apiece. The Bulldogs outhit Central Christian, .386 to .000.

After sitting out the Central Christian (8-22) match, Jocelyn Garcia piled up 32 digs versus Dakota Wesleyan to lead the defensive effort. Noyd also chipped in six total blocks.

The Bulldogs will close their home regular-season schedule on Wednesday when No. 2 Hastings (22-2, 13-1 GPAC) pays a visit to Walz Arena for a 7:30 p.m. first serve. The Broncos currently sit a game up on No. 3 Midland in the race for the GPAC regular-season title.

Bulldogs sweep GPAC weekly awards
November 1, 2016 

SEWARD, Neb. – Following a perfect 3-0 week, the Concordia University volleyball team swept GPAC honors announced on Tuesday by the league. The conference named Tiegen Skains the attacker of the week, Alayna Kavanaugh the setter of the week and Jocelyn Garcia the defensive player of the week. Both Garcia and Kavanaugh have garnered seven conference weekly awards during their collegiate careers. Meanwhile, this marks the second career GPAC weekly award for Skains.

Kavanaugh’s 76 assists in last week’s win over Dakota Wesleyan marked the highest assist total in a single match for any NAIA player in the nation this season. The native of Roca, Neb., averaged 12.25 assists per game last week while facilitating an attack that posted hitting percentages of .235, .386 and .310, respectively, over last week’s three wins. Kavanaugh now has piled up 4,335 assists over 441 sets played as a Bulldog. She’s a two-time first team all-GPAC honoree.

Skains, a native of Colorado Springs, Colo., floored a career high 26 kills to help Concordia hold off Dakota Wesleyan in five sets. For the week, Skains hit .402 with 52 total kills from the right side. In the win over Central Christian, she mashed 13 kills on just 17 swings. With 276 kills on the year, Skains is closing in on her career best 279 kills that she hammered in 2015. Skains now has 817 kills for her career.

A first team all-conference honoree last season, Garcia also notched a career high with 32 digs versus Dakota Wesleyan. Garcia, who hails from Brighton, Colo., also collected 25 digs in the four-set win at College of Saint Mary on Oct. 26. Garcia has totaled 1,276 career digs over 330 sets played as a Bulldog. She currently ranks 32nd nationally in digs per game (5.2).

Concordia (14-16, 5-8 GPAC) will return to action on Wednesday when it hosts No. 2 Hastings (22-2, 13-1 GPAC). First serve is set for 7:30 p.m. CT from Walz Arena.

Kavanaugh elevated to NAIA national setter of the week
November 1, 2016 

SEWARD, Neb. – Named GPAC setter of the week earlier in the day, Alayna Kavanaugh picked up a more prestigious honor Tuesday afternoon when the NAIA tabbed her the National Setter of the Week. A seven-time conference player of the week, Kavanaugh has now received the first national weekly award of her career.

A native of Roca, Neb., Kavanaugh amassed a career high 76 assists in last week’s win over Dakota Wesleyan, which is the highest assist total by any NAIA player in the nation this season. For the week she averaged 12.3 assists per game while totaling 147 assists, 17 digs and 10 kills. She now has 4,335 assists for her career that has included 441 sets played.

Kavanaugh notable career honors

  • NAIA National Setter of the Week (Nov. 1, 2016)
  • 2015 NAIA Honorable Mention All-America
  • 2015 AVCA-NAIA West Central All-Region
  • 2014 and 2015 First Team All-GPAC
  • Omaha World-Herald NAIA All-Nebraska
  • Seven-time GPAC Setter of the Week

Spirited effort falls short versus No. 2 Hastings
November 3, 2016 

SEWARD, Neb. – The recent run of hot hitting carried over to the first set of Wednesday’s tussle with GPAC frontrunner and second-ranked Hastings on Wednesday night. Riding a three-match win streak, the Bulldogs hit .355 in the opening set before the visiting Broncos responded and earned a 16-25, 25-14, 27-25, 25-19 win inside Walz Arena.

The match carried significant weight for Hastings (23-2, 14-1 GPAC), which remains one game up on second-place Midland in the race for the conference regular-season title. Meanwhile, fifth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad stands at 14-17 overall and 5-9 in the GPAC. Concordia still has hopes of rising as high as the No. 6 seed in the GPAC tournament.

“We had our shots. We had swings for it. That’s why they’re No. 2 in the country,” Mattera said.

“We’re at a point where we’re just playing for each other.”

The match turned after Hastings rallied to eke out a white knuckler of a third set. After senior Paige Getz thundered down one of her 19 kills on the night, the Bulldogs held a 22-19 advantage in the third. That’s where the Broncos showed championship mettle on a night that looked as though it might not go their way. They also got some help when three-straight Concordia errors ended the set.

Playing in her final home match as a Bulldog, Getz did her best to lift her side to an upset. Concordia dominated the opening set against a stunned Hastings team. During the opening set, Getz floored a team best five kills. Walz was rocking when Taylor Workman point down set point with an ace.

But the balanced Broncos retorted with double digit kills from four different players. They outhit the Bulldogs, .286 to .211.

Named NAIA National Setter of the Week on Tuesday, Alayna Kavanaugh dished out 45 assists on Wednesday. Concordia had to make up for the absence of freshman outside hitter Alex La Plant. Mikayla Higgins saw increased playing time and notched eight kills. Tiegen Skains also had eight kills. Defensively, Jocelyn Garcia totaled 19 digs.

The regular season will conclude this weekend with a pair of GPAC road trips. The Bulldogs will be at Mount Marty (7-22, 0-15 GPAC) on Friday for a 7:30 p.m. first serve before playing at Morningside (18-12, 7-8 GPAC) for a 3 p.m. start time on Saturday. Concordia will also be on the road against an opponent to be determined for the GPAC tournament quarterfinals on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Bulldogs hit .378, floor Mount Marty
November 4, 2016 

YANKTON, S.D. – Making a bid to rise to the No. 6 seed in the GPAC tournament that begins next week, the Concordia University volleyball team opened up a two-day road trip with a 25-16, 25-18, 25-15 victory at Mount Marty. The Bulldogs hit .378 while not being seriously threatened in any of the three sets.

Fifth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad kept the Lancers winless in league play in the process of winning for the fourth time in the past five outings. Currently in seventh place in the GPAC standings, Concordia stands at 15-17 overall and 6-9 in the GPAC.

“We really played well tonight against a team that passed well and ran some interesting stuff,” Mattera said. “Alayna's (Kavanaugh) location on her sets was great and that really allowed our hitters to see the court well. Paige (Getz) continued her great run by really bringing the heat and hitting smart. Our defense was very disciplined as well which led to solid transition offense.”

It was another big night for Bulldog seniors as the trio of Paige Getz, Tiegen Skains and Taylor Workman combined for 27 kills and reigning NAIA national setter of the week Alayna Kavanaugh teed up 38 of the team’s 43 kills. Getz, who hit .423 for the night, ran her career kill total to 1,314 – just one off current assistant coach Rachel (Kirchner) Miller for third on the program’s all-time kills list.

Concordia hit .344, .333 and then a lava hot .480, respectively, over the three sets. Mount Marty (7-23, 0-16 GPAC) had little answer on the other side of the net. The Lancers got nine kills from Sierra Kloth, but hit only .070 for the match. The low hitting percentage came in part because of the play of Jocelyn Garcia, who totaled 19 digs in the back row.

The Bulldogs will conclude the regular season in Sioux City, Iowa, on Saturday when they visit Morningside (18-12, 7-8 GPAC) for a 3 p.m. CT first serve. Concordia used a miraculous comeback to sink the Mustangs in five sets in the first meeting this season between the two sides. The winner on Saturday will claim the No. 6 seed in the GPAC tournament. The loser will fall back to the No. 7 slot.

Getz continues climb as volleyball concludes regular season
November 5, 2016 

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – The Concordia University volleyball team settled into the No. 7 seed in the GPAC tournament after falling at the hands of Morningside on Saturday as the Mustangs celebrated senior night. Morningside took the Bulldogs in three sets, 25-21, 25-19, 26-24.

Concordia will enter the postseason with records of 15-18 overall and 6-10 in the GPAC.

"We ran into a buzz-saw this afternoon,” said Scott Mattera, who is in his fifth year of coaching the Bulldogs. “Morningside was fantastic on senior day and they absolutely deserved the win. We played pretty well and battled hard down the stretch, but it was just their day."

Senior Paige Getz produced the day’s biggest highlight by moving up another notch on the program’s all-time kills list. On Saturday she landed nine kills to move past assistant coach Rachel (Kirchner) Miller for third place in school history. Getz now has 1,323 kills in her four seasons at Concordia.

Bulldog defensive specialist, Jocelyn Garcia, helped the team out with 10 digs. Taylor Workman, a Lincoln, Neb., native, kept Concordia competitive with an impressive 12 kills for the night. Unfortunately, it was no match for Morningside’s leading attackers Ashley Vande Stouwe (14 kills) and Brittni Olson (11 kills).

The last time the Bulldogs took on Morningside (19-12, 8-8 GPAC) they were able to pull a five-set win over the Mustangs inside Walz Arena. Although Concordia fell in Sioux City, it has some momentum having won four of its last six matches.

"We are not hanging our heads at all,” Mattera said. “We are pumped to have a great practice on Monday and go compete with whomever our matchup is in the first round. We know we can play with anyone and none of us are ready for this to be over.”

The Bulldogs will have new life when the GPAC quarterfinals open up on Tuesday (Nov. 8). Seventh-seeded Concordia will be at second-seeded Midland (24-2, 14-2 GPAC), which earned a share of the GPAC regular-season title. The Warriors took both regular-season matchups versus the Bulldogs. Tuesday’s first serve from Fremont, Neb., is set for 7:30 p.m. CT.

Volleyball set for GPAC quarterfinal at No. 5 Midland
November 7, 2016 

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University volleyball team will push the reset button after a regular season that fell short of the lofty standard set by the 2015 group that advanced to the national tournament for the first time in program history. Tuesday’s GPAC quarterfinal matchup in Fremont, Neb., will feature the third meeting of the season between the seventh-seeded Bulldogs (15-18) and second-seeded Midland (24-2), which shared the GPAC regular-season title with Hastings.

Tuesday’s first serve is set for 7:30 p.m. CT from the Wikert Event Center on the Midland University campus.

“We are not hanging our heads at all,” Mattera said after Saturday’s regular-season finale at Morningside. “We are pumped to have a great practice on Monday and go compete with whomever our matchup is with in the first round. We know we can play with anyone and none of us are ready for this to be over.”

Concordia will need to be at its best to finally produce the victory over a ranked opponent that has eluded it throughout this season. The Bulldogs followed a six-match losing streak by winning four of their final contests of the regular season as part of a much needed uptick. After collecting three wins during the week of Oct. 24, Concordia swept GPAC player of the week awards that went to Jocelyn Garcia (defense), Alayna Kavanaugh (setter) and Tiegen Skains (attacker). Kavanuagh was named the national setter of the week.

On the other side of the net, Midland has reason to believe it can go deep into the GPAC and national tournaments. The Warriors are ranked fifth in the national coaches’ poll after holding down the No. 1 spot earlier this season. Middle Priscilla O’Dowd is one of the nation’s most potent attackers. She ranks seventh in the NAIA in hitting percentage (.384). As a team, Midland ranks 14th in hitting percentage (.251) and 16th in kills per game (13.5).

Foremost among Concordia attackers is senior Paige Getz, who has played some of the best volleyball of her career late in the season. Last week she moved up to No. 3 on the program’s all-time kills list and now has 1,323 kills in her four seasons as a Bulldog. Last week Getz hit .324 with 40 kills over three GPAC matches.

Concordia and Midland met in last year’s GPAC tournament championship match which ended with a straight-sets Warrior win. The fourth-seeded Bulldogs had advanced to the final with home wins over Northwestern and College of Saint Mary.

The winner of Tuesday’s match will advance to play in the GPAC semifinals on Thursday (see schedule below).

Tuesday, Nov. 8 (GPAC quarterfinals)
No. 8 Briar Cliff at No. 1 Hastings, 7:30 p.m.
No. 5 Northwestern at No. 4 Doane, 7:30 p.m.
No. 6 Morningside at No. 3 Dordt, 7:30 p.m.
No. 7 Concordia at No. 2 Midland, 7:30 p.m. 

Thursday, Nov. 10 (GPAC semifinals)
No. 1/8 winner vs. No. 4/5 winner, 7:30 p.m. (highest seed hosts)
No. 3/6 winner vs. No. 2/7 winner, 7:30 p.m. (highest seed hosts)

Saturday, Nov. 12 (GPAC championship)

Kavanaugh collects eighth career GPAC weekly award
November 8, 2016 

SEWARD, Neb. – Named NAIA National Setter of the Week on Nov. 1, senior Alayna Kavanaugh reeled in another weekly award on Tuesday (Nov. 8). The conference has tabbed Kavanaugh as the GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Setter of the Week. The announcement marks her eighth career weekly conference honor.

Last week Kavanaugh racked up 115 assists over three matches and a total of 10 sets. In addition, she amassed eight kills and 15 digs. The native of Roca, Neb., went for 45 assists in the four-set loss to No. 2 Hastings on Nov. 2 when she played at Walz Arena for the final time in her career.

It’s been an impressive career for Kavanaugh, who currently ranks 25th nationally in assists per game (10.2). A four-year starter, Kavanaugh has recorded 4,450 assists, 801 digs, 363 kills and 80 aces while playing in 451 sets since the beginning of the 2013 season.

Kavanaugh and the seventh-seeded Bulldogs (15-18) will be at second-seeded Midland (24-2) tonight (Nov. 8) for a 7:30 p.m. CT first serve as one of four GPAC quarterfinal matches.

Kavanaugh notable career honors

  • NAIA National Setter of the Week (Nov. 1, 2016)
  • 2015 NAIA Honorable Mention All-America
  • 2015 AVCA-NAIA West Central All-Region
  • 2014 and 2015 First Team All-GPAC
  • Omaha World-Herald NAIA All-Nebraska
  • Eight-time GPAC Setter of the Week

Season ends in GPAC quarterfinals
November 9, 2016 

FREMONT, Neb. – The Concordia University volleyball team outlasted No. 5 Midland in the second set, but its hopes of a postseason run were put to rest by the likes of Warrior stars Priscilla O’Dowd and Krystina Koepke. The second set was merely a speed bump for co-GPAC regular season champion Midland, which turned away the Bulldogs, 25-17, 27-29, 25-15, 25-20, in Tuesday’s GPAC quarterfinal match in Fremont.

A season that began with a No. 20 national ranking ended with a 15-19 overall mark for fifth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad, which struggled all year to get over the hump against top-notch competition like it saw on Tuesday night.

“We played really well defensively tonight, which has been up and down this season,” Mattera said. “We’ve given up some pretty large hitting percentages to some really good teams, but we really played a lot more disciplined and together, especially in the back row. I was really proud of that.”

Concordia’s defensive work was airtight in a second set that saw it hold powerfully built Midland hit .077. Senior Taylor Workman put an end to that set by pulverizing one of her team high nine kills. The second set was also one characterized by mistakes on both sides – 11 attack errors by Concordia and 10 by Midland.

But the Warriors heated back up, hitting .412 in the third set and .324 in the fourth while moving on to the semifinals. O’Dowd crushed 15 kills on only 27 swings. Koepke put down her 10 kills on 16 attempts. On the outside KC Heimann nailed 14 kills.

Their efforts were superior on the attack when compared to Concordia. The Bulldogs hit .133 for the match. Playing in the final matches of their careers, Paige Getz and Tiegen Skains both hit .033 on Tuesday. Getz finished her career with 1,331 career kills, good for third on the program’s all-time list. Fellow senior Alayna Kavanaugh dished out 35 assists while putting the finishing touches on another impressive four-year run.

While an accomplished senior class has seen its time run out, Mattera sees a talented group in the fold for 2017. Many underclassmen played significant roles in 2016, either by design or necessity.

“You can go down the list with a bunch of kids. Even though we’re losing so much, we still have a lot coming back,” Mattera said. “The bottom line is we have to come together and reaffirm who we are on and off the court and take that into the spring.”

Getz, Kavanaugh grab second team All-GPAC accolades
November 16, 2016 

SEWARD, Neb. – A total of four Bulldogs represented the Concordia University volleyball team on the all-conference teams released on Wednesday (Nov. 16) by the GPAC. Seniors Paige Getz and Alayna Kavanaugh landed on the second team while honorable mention accolades went to both junior Jocelyn Garcia and senior Tiegen Skains.

A native of Paola, Kan., Getz collected second team All-GPAC honors in each of her final three collegiate seasons. As a senior, she posted single-season career highs for kills (375), kills per game (3.2) and hitting percentage (.216) from her spot on the outside. Getz eclipsed 300 kills in each of her four seasons at Concordia while finishing her career with 1,331 kills. That figure ranks as the third highest total in program history.

Kavanaugh, a 2015 NAIA honorable mention All-American, will leave Concordia as one of the most accomplished setters in program history. Her 4,485 career assists are the most by a Bulldog during the modern era of rally scoring. This season she totaled 1,099 assists (third-straight year with more than 1,000 assists), 84 kills, 19 aces and 152 digs over 108 sets played. Her 10.2 assists per game ranked 25th best nationally. Kavanaugh, who hails from Roca, Neb., dished out 76 assists in the Oct. 29 win over Dakota Wesleyan. That total rates as the most assists in a single match by any NAIA player this season. She was named NAIA national setter of the week following that performance.

Skains also enjoyed a career year with single-season best for kills (304), kills per game (2.7) and hitting percentage (.228) while playing right side. A native of Colorado Springs, Colo., Skains received GPAC honorable mention accolades three times during her career. A first team All-GPAC and honorable mention All-America choice in 2015, Garcia was named GPAC defensive player of the week four times in 2016. This season the Brighton, Colo., native registered career highs for digs (600) and digs per game (5.2). She has 1,347 digs in three seasons at Concordia.

Fifth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad finished 2016 at 15-19 overall and 6-10 in conference play.