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SEWARD, Neb. – As far as coaching debuts go, this introduction went about as well as anyone wearing navy blue could have hoped. Head coach Ben Boldt opened up his tenure leading the Concordia University volleyball program by watching his team spray bullets all over the opposition’s side of the court. The end result on Tuesday night (Aug. 21) was a 25-14, 25-11, 25-10, victory over visiting York College.
If you wanted to get real cheesy, you might say the Bulldogs struck the Panthers with a ‘Boldt’ of lightning. We’ll just stick to the facts. Concordia outhit York, .400 to .000, and made it a fairly comfortable night for Ben and wife Angie Boldt, the team’s new top assistant.
“I didn’t know exactly what was going to happen when we put somebody on the other side of the net,” Boldt said. “To be honest, I think those first couple of points, I don’t think our team did either. As the match went on we started to find our groove a little bit there.”
Boldt sprinkled in some familiar faces along with some new ones like setter Kaci Hohenthaner, a transfer from Iowa Western Community College. Though it was her first match working with new teammates, Hohenthaner seemed to have a good feel for how to involve an array of attackers. She dished out 34 assists and aided her squad in a kill advantage of 41-16.
Junior Emmie Noyd led the attack with 10 kills on 16 swings. She was followed closely behind by senior Jenna Habegger (nine kills, 12 attempts), freshman Arleigh Costello (eight kills, 14 attempts) and junior Alex La Plant (seven kills, 15 attempts). The attack especially sizzled in the second set when it hit a preposterous .619. Habegger floored five of her kills during that splurge. The Pawnee City, Neb., native didn’t seem to mind the move from right side to outside hitter.
“It felt super good tonight,” Habegger said. “Since I switched to the right side last year to the outside this year it’s been a little bit of an adjustment. Coach Ben and Angie have been super helpful with what to do. I felt pretty good about tonight. I’m excited for the rest of the season.”
In a match that breezed by in 65 minutes, a nice crowd of students were treated to emphatic kills to slam shut each of the three sets. The impressive rookie Costello did the honors in the first set, then passed the torch to fellow freshman Morgan Nibbe before Noyd closed the night out with her 10th and final kill.
Defensively, Noyd was in on all five of the team’s blocks. When the 6-foot-2 middle wasn’t cleaning up at the net, the back row typically picked up the slack. York (0-1) knocked down only four kills in the dominant third set. Four Bulldogs each chipped in team highs of seven digs: Jenna Eller (team best three aces), Harlie Himmelberg, Hohenthaner and Marissa Hoerman.
On the opposite end, York got four kills apiece from Shiloh Lively and Tori Schindler. The Panthers, 6-29 overall in 2017, also have a new head coach in Crystal Nething.
All in all, it was a good start for Boldt and the Bulldogs. Said Boldt, “My message to them afterwards was it’s a process and we’ll be a different team at the end of the season than we are right now. We took a step today in terms of being able to play somebody else. As the match went on today, some of the things we talked to our players about improved, like our serving.”
Next up on the schedule is this weekend’s Red Raider Classic in Orange City, Iowa. Concordia will play twice on Friday (2:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.) and once on Saturday (11 a.m.). The opponents, in order, will be Waldorf University (Iowa), Baker University (Kan.) and MidAmerica Nazarene University (Kan.).