SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University volleyball team came into Friday (Sept. 7)’s match expecting to capitalize on its clear physical advantage over visiting Mount Marty College. The Bulldogs did just that in continuing to feature an efficient attack. Concordia retained its sparkling unbeaten record by handling the Lancers, 25-16, 25-20, 25-15, inside Walz Arena.
Friday’s victory completed a run of six-consecutive home matches within the friendly Walz atmosphere. First-year head coach Ben Boldt’s squad won all six, dropping just two sets total, and has moved to 10-0 overall and to 2-0 in conference play.
“It was sometimes great, sometimes not,” said Boldt of the latest triumph. “Overall, I was happy with how we finished the match. We were workmanlike so that was good. Defensively, we had nine blocks tonight. What we’re working on is cutting out the seams. We don’t want to be reaching and being weak outside of our body. We want to have our hands out in front of our body and be strong. We did a better job of not reaching. It’s a process.”
Tuesday’s star Emmie Noyd (match high eight kills) was hot again early with three kills right out of the gate in the opening set. The rest of the way Concordia balanced things out by feeding an array of options. The offensive attack did not dominate at all times (.206 hitting percentage), meaning the Bulldogs had to be a bit grittier defensively. Known for her offensive abilities, sophomore setter Tara Callahan is becoming more of a weapon as someone capable of stifling opposing attackers from the front row.
Callahan went on a blocking run during the second set that saw Concordia take full control of the match. It wound up being the ninth straight-sets win of the year for the Bulldogs. Callahan contributed 16 assists, four blocks and three kills.
“The focus tonight was definitely our pin blockers to work outside and move in with the block,” Callahan said. “We did pretty well, but we can definitely improve on that.”
Concordia held the Lancers (2-6, 0-3 GPAC) to below .100 hitting percentages in all three sets. Sophomore defensive specialist Marissa Hoerman again cleaned up in the back row with 17 digs. Four Bulldogs had at least four kills: Noyd, Jenna Habegger (eight), Arleigh Costello (five), Alex La Plant (four) and Morgan Nibbe (four). As the other cog in the setter rotation, Kaci Hohenthaner tossed up 12 assists and added seven digs.
Mount Marty, which has also suffered conference losses at the hands of nationally-ranked Dordt and Midland, got a team high eight kills from Elizabeth Watchorn (eight hitting errors). Maura Lysne registered 14 digs.
The Bulldogs continue a busy weekend on Saturday by playing twice at the Five Point Bank Classic hosted by Hastings College. Concordia will take on McPherson College (Kan.) (11-0) at 10 a.m. CT and then Kansas Wesleyan University (9-3) at 2 p.m. CT. Both matches can be streamed live via Hastings’ Stretch Internet portal.
The morning match will feature two undefeated squads, both with the nickname Bulldogs.
Said Boldt of McPherson, which is receiving votes nationally, “They have good setters, they have good middles, they have good outsides so they’re pretty balanced. They’re going to keep us in a spot where we need to be balanced and solid defensively. I think our offense is going to come to play and I think our defense will too.”