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Bulldogs pummel Panthers to ring in new season

Bulldogs pummel Panthers to ring in new season
Photo Courtesy Concordia Athletics

SEWARD, Neb. – Kaylie Dengel lived at the service line during a second set splurge that characterized a season opening night of dominance for the Concordia University volleyball team. The Bulldogs outhit visiting York College, .474 to -.013, in Wednesday night (Aug. 21)’s affair that officially kicked off the 2019-20 athletics season on campus. Star senior Emmie Noyd and company breezed past the Panthers, 25-10, 25-6, 25-13.

Concordia made things look easy as Ben Boldt began the second season of his head coaching tenure. The program has now won 16-straight matches versus non-league foes. The Bulldogs wouldn’t mind duplicating the 12-0 start they jetted out to in 2018.

“We were very intentional on prepping them for things they can control – attitude, effort and communication,” Boldt said. “They did a really good job with that tonight … we won the serve and pass game, which was our focus. We’re looking at running middles early and often to open up things on the pins for us.”

It’s hard to know what exactly to make of this match, but Concordia looked sharp against an outmatched foe. Those aforementioned advantages in the serve and pass games helped enable the attacking duo of Noyd in the middle and junior Kara Stark on the outside to enjoy a field day. Noyd struck for 16 kills on a .583 hitting percentage while Stark floored 12 kills and hit .500.

Noyd has been a consistent force in her career, earning second team All-GPAC honors in each of the past two seasons. She expects her best volleyball to come in 2019.

“She’s taken that to heart,” Boldt said of Noyd’s desire to be a leader for this team. “She wants this season to be great. We’re telling her to stay in the present and not worry about the future. Control what you can control. We’re trying to find the best ways to get her kills and blocks.”

Dengel is another senior who plays a crucial role. She served 11-consecutive times to end the second set. Four of those services resulted in aces, including set point. It was the most impressive run of the night for a Bulldog team out to prove it has made a leap forward from last season.

“We’ve worked really hard and we just have a completely new feeling this year,” Dengel said. “We have a lot of returners. We did a great job this game and we were really consistent … this year we want do it for each other and show everybody what we’re capable of.”

Fifteen players saw action for Concordia. Freshmen Camryn Opfer of Seward and Kalee Wiltfong of Doniphan, Neb., both made their collegiate debuts. Boldt showed his trust in Opfer by immediately throwing her into the starting lineup. Opfer finished with seven kills (12 swings) and six digs. Meanwhile, Wiltfong saw some time in the middle and wound up with four kills on eight attempts.

Defensively, the Bulldogs were led by junior Marissa Hoerman’s 12 digs. Setter Tara Callahan assisted on 38 of Concordia’s 43 kills. The work of Hoerman and her teammates resulted in plenty of negative hitting percentages up and down the Panther roster. York, which went 9-26 overall in 2018, got a team high five kills from Shiloh Lively.

The Bulldogs will hit the road this weekend for three more nonconference matches with each of them taking place at the Red Raider Classic hosted by Northwestern in Orange City, Iowa. In Friday action, Concordia will go up against Baker University (Kan.) (3-1) at 6:30 p.m. CT. Frank Greene will be present to call the action for 104.9 Max Country.

Said Boldt of Wednesday’s match, “We played clean. We want to continue to do that as we move on.”

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