FREMONT, Neb. – For the second time in as many tries at the Wikert Event Center, the Concordia University Volleyball team has come away victorious. Omaha native Gabi Nordaker made herself comfortable in her very first collegiate match and the Bulldogs took care of host Midland in straight sets, 25-19, 25-21, 25-23, on Wednesday (Sept. 9) night. Concordia outhit the Warriors, .248 to .168.
It was a long-awaited season opener for third-year head coach Ben Boldt’s squad. The Bulldogs are coming off a national round of 16 appearance in 2019 and have the majority of that team back in 2020.
“It’s fun to have the opportunity to compete,” Boldt said. “We’ve been playing against ourselves for a while. Our team was nervous. I was nervous … I’ve seen flashes in practice where I think we can be really good. We’re not really focused on that. We’re focused on relationships and our core values of being resilient and connected with our team. Those are the things we give feedback to our players about.”
With Midland threatening to push the match to a fourth set, sophomore Kalee Wiltfong emerged with a block to put a cap on the night. What a night it was for Nordaker, who pelted the floorboards with 12 kills (six in the opening set) without committing a single error. The Millard West High School graduate also added six blocks. Said Boldt afterwards, “That’s the way to start a career. How about that.”
In October of last year, Concordia snapped an eight-match series losing streak against rival Midland. In other words, any win over the Warriors (1-2, 0-1 GPAC) is a big one. Midland also returns a nice nucleus of players that helped it go five sets this past Saturday with two strong programs (win over Missouri Baptist and loss to Grand View). Middle blocker Sydney Morehouse managed 12 kills, but the Bulldogs kept everyone else in check.
Bulldog senior Kara Stark also put together a nice night on the outside while striking for 12 kills on 28 swings. Returning All-American setter Tara Callahan spurred the attack with her 39 assists. Senior Marissa Hoerman ruled the back row with 24 digs. Additionally, Camryn Opfer chipped in with eight kills and 11 digs and Tristin Mason dropped in a pair of aces. As a team, Concordia out-blocked Midland, 9-7.
This was a fine way to brush off the nerves. The Bulldogs did not have the benefit of a preseason scrimmage or a nonconference match. A strong collection of talent and experience coupled with confidence will make this team dangerous in 2020.
“Before anything can happen you have to believe it can happen,” Boldt said. “They’re a veteran group and they’ve been there. They’ve done a great job of fostering that mentality of knowing what it takes and trusting each other to get the job done. That’s what we saw on the floor tonight.”
The Bulldogs will have the weekend off while focusing their attention on next Wednesday (Sept. 16)’s matchup at Doane (3-0, 1-0 GPAC). First serve of the varsity match is set for 7:30 p.m. CT from the Haddix Center in Crete. Concordia topped the Tigers in all three of last season’s meetings, including one that occurred in the GPAC tournament quarterfinals.
Concordia Volleyball vs Midland https://t.co/J46wTLCMSK
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