MARSHALL, Mo. – The Concordia University volleyball team showed growth throughout day one of the Viking Invitational hosted by Missouri Valley College. Jenna Habegger nearly equaled a career high for kills in match No. 1 and then Emmie Noyd exploded for a personal best 16 kills in match No. 2 as part of Friday’s action in Marshall, Mo. Ultimately, the Bulldogs suffered a pair of defeats, falling 25-20, 25-23, 25-10, to Ottawa University and then 25-15, 25-21, 18-25, 31-29, to Missouri Valley.
Both of Friday’s opponents received votes in the NAIA preseason coaches’ poll. Sixth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad now stands at 1-3 overall.
“While we didn’t get the result we wanted in the win column, this could very well be a match we point to down the road as a turning point,” Mattera said. “MVC is a veteran team with some big time weapons and we pushed them to the limit by laying Bulldog volleyball. We battled so hard with class and joy in a very hostile environment. We’ve still got a lot of technical stuff to clean up but this mentality is what we’ve been looking for.”
If this Bulldog team is to turn the corner as those inside the locker room believe will happen, players like Noyd must emerge. The matchup in the middle between Noyd and Deborah Costanzo served as a highlight of the contest between Concordia and Missouri Valley. On this particular day, Noyd played the part of a star. She hammered eight kills on 16 swings versus Ottawa and then 16 kills on 31 attempts against Missouri Valley.
Noyd and company regrouped admirably after dropping the opening set, 25-15, to host Missouri Valley. The Bulldogs held the Vikings to a .143 hitting percentage in the third set and forced a drama-filled fourth set. Concordia came up short on set point on more than one occasion before Missouri Valley could finally exhale. The Vikings remained unbeaten at 7-0.
Habegger, a junior from Pawnee City, Neb., has had no finer day as a collegiate performer. She slugged 10 kills and hit .450 in the afternoon tilt. She also powdered seven more kills in the capper. The likes of Habegger, Noyd and sophomore Alex La Plant (15 kills on the day) were again set by freshman Tara Callahan, who has taken ownership of the setter position, much like Alayna Kavanaugh did in her rookie season.
“Habs and Emmie were beasts in the Ottawa match,” Mattera said. “It was easily Jenna’s best match as a Bulldog. If we continue to get that kind of production from them and then connect with our outsides better than we did this match, this offense is going to be really fun.”
In the evening match, senior Jocelyn Garcia made her 2017 debut. She recorded 25 digs as she treks closer to the 1,500 mark for her career. Her return helps solidify the back row.
The Bulldogs will return to the court on Saturday for their final match at the Viking Invitational. Concordia and Avila University (0-3) will square off at 2 p.m. on the Missouri Valley campus. Live stats can be viewed here: https://portal.