OMAHA, Neb. – The Concordia University volleyball team hoped a trip to Omaha would provide the confidence boost it sought. Instead, host College of Saint Mary came from behind and dealt the Bulldogs a 21-25, 25-20, 19-25, 25-21, 15-9 defeat on Wednesday evening in a matchup between two squads looking for their first GPAC victory of 2017.
It’s been a frustrating stretch for sixth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad. Concordia (5-12, 0-7 GPAC) has struggled to produce results against one of the nation’s most challenging schedules.
“Right now we are just a team that doesn’t know how to win,” Mattera said. “There were times that we looked dominant and then we’d take turns making mistakes. We got so tight in all of the big moments and we need to learn how to overcome that and just remain tough and together. Nothing is coming easy right now but we love each other and are still in this fight.”
Junior Jenna Habegger emerged as the biggest bright spot. She hammered a career high 16 kills while hitting .355. Six of her kills came during a first set that saw the Bulldogs jump on top of the Flames (8-7, 1-4 GPAC) by hitting a collective .333. Concordia exerted control again in the third set with another strong performance. In the fourth set, the Bulldogs cut a five-point deficit down to one (20-19) before CSM ultimately forced the fifth set.
The Flames held Concordia to .181 hitting for the match and relied upon the duo of Dani Carlson (21 kills) and Payton Robley (.400) on the attack. Defensively, Emily Pongratz recorded a match high 23 digs and MacKenzie Melton was in on seven of her team’s 12 blocks.
CSM overcame Habegger’s big night and another near triple-double by freshman Tara Callahan. The Brady High School product put up a stat line of 31 assists, 11 digs and nine kills. Emmie Noyd also swatted nine kills to go along with six blocks from the middle. Freshman libero topped Concordia with 17 digs.
The Bulldogs will make a return to Walz Arena on Saturday when they are set to host Briar Cliff (11-4, 2-4 GPAC) at 5 p.m. CT. The Chargers have dropped each of their last four matches after jumping out to an 11-0 start. In last season’s only meeting between the two sides, Concordia defeated Briar Cliff, 25-20, 29-27, 29-27.