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Dawgs take two from Mount Marty, Callahan surpasses milestone

Dawgs take two from Mount Marty, Callahan surpasses milestone

SEWARD, Neb. – Tuesday (Oct. 13) provided a different type of challenge. For the first time this season, the Concordia University Volleyball team was tasked with playing two matches in one day. The Bulldogs put an emphasis upon returning their attack to form and did just that while taking two from visiting Mount Marty in a rare conference doubleheader. Concordia won both matches in straight sets on a pink-out night that brought awareness to breast cancer.

The double dip inside Walz Arena marked the first time back out since the Bulldogs suffered their first loss of 2020. Head Coach Ben Boldt’s squad is now halfway through GPAC regular-season play with a conference mark of 7-1.

“I told our team that this is exactly what we need right now. We need to be able to simulate what a big five-set match is going to be like,” Boldt said. “It’s focus for long periods of time. You’re not always going to be 100 percent focused, but to be able to refocus is important to us. We were talking a lot about that throughout this match.”

Both matches on Tuesday lasted roughly an hour apiece (with a junior varsity contest sandwiched in-between). For the day, Concordia hit .366 and totaled 69 kills to just 16 errors. The Bulldogs also accumulated 27 service aces in giving the Lancers fits. Mount Marty frequently struggled in its serve receive and passing.

Concordia has been mostly strong in those areas. It wanted to get back to attacking with efficiency on this particular day. Sophomore Camryn Opfer led the way with a combined 18 kills (.424 hitting percentage). Four other Bulldogs had at least 10 kills on the day: Arleigh Costello (13), Gabi Nordaker (13), Kalee Wiltfong (12) and Kara Stark (10). It was a good way to put behind the 37 errors that plagued Concordia in last week’s four-set loss to Northwestern.

“We challenged our players to take national championship style swings,” Boldt said. “As we talked about from the first match to the second match, where’s our purpose in our swings? After our loss to Northwestern, we’re really working on training to take national championship style swings. It’s all about our contact on the ball – things we have control of.”

The Bulldogs toppled the Lancers by scores of 25-12, 25-12, 25-8, and 25-18, 25-16, 25-12. There was never much doubt about Concordia’s grip on the lead in the latter stages of any of the six sets. As Boldt noted, Mount Marty improved from the service line in match No. 2. After having no aces in the first match, the Lancers took a 7-5 lead in the opening set of the night cap after back-to-back aces. That advantage was short-lived and the Bulldogs quickly regained control.

Senior setter Tara Callahan directed the attack and surpassed a career milestone. Her 60 assists on the day pushed her over 3,000 for her career (third player in program history on record to accomplish that feat). As mentioned, aces were plentiful. Five or more aces on Tuesday were recorded by Erin Johnson (seven), Tatum Kuti (five), Tristin Mason (five) and Opfer (five). Nordaker and Wiltfong were in on eight blocks apiece (out of 19 total team blocks for the day).

Mount Marty (5-8, 0-4 GPAC) had not played since Sept. 19. The Lancers were paced by the 18 combined kills of Elizabeth Watchorn on Tuesday. Mount Marty hit -.042 in match one and .084 in match two.

A challenging road trip is next on the docket. The Bulldogs will be at 2019 national semifinalist and reigning GPAC tournament champion Jamestown (8-0, 6-0 GPAC) for a 7:30 p.m. CT first serve on Friday before heading to Dakota Wesleyan (7-5, 4-5 GPAC) for a 5 p.m. match on Saturday. Concordia battled Jamestown to five sets in North Dakota in the semifinals of last year’s GPAC tournament.


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