SEWARD, Neb. – Two well-rested rivals finally ended a lengthy idle stretch as GPAC play resumed Wednesday (Sept. 30) night inside Walz Arena. For the second time in three weeks, the Concordia University Volleyball team got the best of Midland. It turned into a typical conference grinder with the Bulldogs triumphing, 25-20, 25-18, 25-27, 25-18.
Head Coach Ben Boldt’s squad had not previously dropped a set this season. On this particular evening, a setback in the third game was just a blip on the way to moving to 4-0 this season. Boldt knows his team has another gear yet to be displayed.
“The first couple of sets were kind of ugly. We were able to grind through it,” Boldt said. “There wasn’t really one stat that was awesome. It was good to see us be resilient and work through all that stuff. I think in the second part of the third set that Midland actually won, we started playing pretty well. We started playing Bulldog Volleyball … the last two sets were better volleyball. Sometimes that’s the way matches go.”
One of the nation’s most efficient attacking teams, Concordia hit .250 or lower in each of the four sets. The Bulldogs dug out of a 4-0 hole out of the gate, rattled off six-straight points and never trailed again in that first set. Senior Kara Stark got going early on and finished with 12 kills. Meanwhile, some of the loudest roars of the match were produced by Arleigh Costello, who notched a team high 13 kills.
But not a whole lot came easy. For the first time this season, Concordia freshman middle Gabi Nordaker (four kills, four errors) was held in check on the attack. However, she found a way to make a big impact by rising up for six total blocks. Two of those came on back-to-back plays in the second set. It’s just not in this team’s DNA to fold, even when it’s not at its best.
“It’s really cool (to be 4-0), especially in the GPAC – just being able to play as well as we have been,” Costello said. “We’re sticking together and being thankful for every game we do get to play this season. We’re cherishing every moment we get to go out there and play Bulldog volleyball.”
Of course these grinders are good fun for the defensive stalwarts in the back row. The Bulldogs were peppered with 143 Midland attacks, of which 67 resulted in digs (40 kills, 24 errors and 11 block backs). Five Concordia players registered nine digs or more: Marissa Hoerman (17), Camryn Opfer (15), Erin Johnson (11), Tristin Mason (10) and Tara Callahan (nine). The Bulldogs were burned most by the combo of Maggie Hiatt (13 kills) and Taliyah Flores (11 kills).
Concordia could not complete the comeback in the third set, but it did show off its championship mettle in rallying from deficits of 17-11 and 24-21 to knot things up, 24-24. The Bulldogs seemed to carry that level of play over into the fourth set that they controlled. They raced out to a 16-8 advantage and maintained a lead of at least six points the rest of the way.
“It’s that kind of year,” Boldt said of the layoff between matches. “We’re going to have a long season. Our conference (tournament) championship isn’t until the spring now. We’re going to have a big break. That’s the kind of season we need to gear up for. Volleyball doesn’t care whether you’ve had 11 days off or two months off.”
Callahan filled the stat sheet with 38 assists, six kills and two blocks to go along with her nine digs. Opfer chipped in with nine kills. This marked the first time Concordia has beaten Midland (2-4, 1-3 GPAC) twice in a regular season since 2008.
The Bulldogs will open up the month of October with a trip to Dordt (5-2, 4-2 GPAC) on Friday. First serve is set for 7:30 p.m. CT (junior varsity at 6 p.m.).
Concordia Volleyball vs Midland https://t.co/aHqizQwAvE
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