SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University volleyball team knew the wins would not come as easily once GPAC play arrived. It took just about everything the Bulldogs had offensively to stave off College of Saint Mary, 25-19, 24-26, 27-25, 23-25, 15-10, inside Walz Arena on Tuesday night (Sept. 4). Junior Emmie Noyd helped will the Bulldogs to victory with a big-time effort in the middle.
First-year head coach Ben Boldt’s squad remains unbeaten at 9-0 overall. For the first time this season Concordia finally dropped a set. It won its first 25 sets of 2018 before being pushed hard by the Flames.
“My thoughts right of the bat is, our offense is good, our defense needs to get better,” Boldt said. “Saint Mary hit the ball really hard, probably harder than any team we’ve played so far. When the ball starts getting hit harder it exposes the strengths of the block. It’s not something that we can’t necessarily handle, it’s just something that we need to think about and being mentally tough on.”
Every top team in the GPAC seems to have that one dominant hitter, if not a second one, that it can count on when it absolutely has to have the next point. Noyd was that player for the Bulldogs on this evening. The Shelby, Neb., native put away a match high 23 kills, including five in the final set. In that fifth game, Noyd pelted point Nos. 1, 2, 11, 12 and 14. Ultimately, match point came on an anticlimactic service error.
Had the serve cleared the net, Noyd would have been ready to deliver one more blow. She was in a groove.
“The coaches in timeout knew that the middles had to step up because they were setting the block well on the pins,” Noyd said. “We knew just knew we had to step up. It just started clicking with the setters.”
An improved College of Saint Mary (8-6, 0-1 GPAC) squad nearly overcame Noyd’s monster night on the strength of its own attack. Dani Carlson (20), Payton Robley (16) and Makenna Freeman (13) each registered double figure kills. Additionally, the Flames had five different players post 10 or more digs and were aided by 13 Concordia service errors.
College of Saint Mary will probably look back at the third set as the one that got away. The Flames led it 20-15 and had a service for set point on two occasions. Down 25-24, Noyd surfaced with a kill. That play was followed by an attack error and then a Morgan Nibbe block to put it away. It was one of many loud Walz moments on the evening.
“They can bring it,” Boldt said of College of Saint Mary. “It was fun to play against that. It was fun to be in that environment and have two-point sets. It allowed us to see what we were made of mentally.”
On the attack, Jenna Habegger added 15 kills (55 attempts) and Alex La Plant hammered 10 (25 swings). Kaci Hohenathaner (31 assists) and Tara Callahan (27 assists) again ran the offense. Blocking was even at eight apiece between the two sides. Concordia outhit the Flames, .291 to .194.
The run of six-straight home matches will conclude on Friday when the Bulldogs host Mount Marty (2-4, 0-1 GPAC) for a 7:30 p.m. CT first serve on Friday. The Lancers also opened up conference play on Tuesday and fell at home to 12th-ranked Dordt in straight sets. Mount Marty’s two wins outside of conference play came against Dickinson State University (N.D.) and Mayville State University (N.D.).