SIOUX CITY, Iowa – For the first time this season, the Concordia University volleyball team went into hostile territory, more specifically the Rosen Verdoor Sports Center in Sioux City, Iowa. A slow start doomed the Bulldogs on this particular night. Host Morningside then held off the Concordia comeback effort, winning, 25-17, 25-15, 23-25, 25-23, on Thursday night (Sept. 13).
For the second-straight GPAC match, first-year head coach Ben Boldt’s squad narrowly missed out on forcing a fifth set. The Bulldogs (12-2, 2-2 GPAC) also fell in four at the hands of No. 8 Midland on Tuesday.
Said Boldt, “I didn’t think we were ready to compete right off the bat. I think we did a good job responding. That was encouraging to see, but you have to have your full attention on everybody in the GPAC. What I told them afterwards is, as long as we learn that lesson then this loss is fine. We fought, we made an adjustment and we were competing. Coming away it kind of feels like we left one out there. We need to learn and get better.”
Concordia seemed to feel a sense of urgency in the third set. During that stretch, senior Jenna Habegger pummeled five of her team high 14 kills. The Bulldogs even withstood a push from the Mustangs (7-5, 2-1 GPAC), who came back to tie the set after being down 17-13. Emmie Noyd ensured that the action would continue by flooring a kill for set point (assist Kaci Hohenthaner).
The fourth set was also anybody’s contest. It was tied 23-23 after Habegger’s final kill of the night. A kill by Krista Zenk and a Concordia attack error moved Morningside to the winner’s circle. Zenk (13 kills) was one of four Mustangs with double-digit kill totals. She joined Caitlin Makovicka (16), Emma Gerber (13) and Brittni Olson (12 kills, five blocks) in that category.
Those four, along with setter Callie Alberico (50 assists), had the Morningside offense humming in the first two sets. The Mustangs took control of the match by hitting .300 in the first set and .318 in the second. They ultimately outhit Concordia, .239 to .158, and held a 65-48 advantage in kills. The two sides were dead even in blocks (7-7).
“Reflecting on this, it’s a tough loss,” Boldt said. “We’re going to have good matches. We’re going to have bad matches. As long as we keep fighting, that’s what we’re preaching for them to do. Next week is going to be just as tough. I’m hoping this first round of the GPAC is eye opening for the young players and our team in general. Learning how to compete and get over the hump is going to be something that we’re going to get tested on every night.”
Noyd, named GPAC Attacker of the Week on Tuesday, enjoyed a solid night in the middle. She finished with 10 kills and four blocks while hitting .435. Sophomore Kara Stark saw extended playing time and chipped in eight kills on 31 attacks. Freshman Arleigh Costello also totaled eight kills. Tara Callahan (23 assists) and Hohenthaner (19 assists) combined for 42 assists. Reigning GPAC Defensive Player of the Week Marissa Hoerman added 26 digs.
The Bulldogs will be off this weekend. Their next match will be Tuesday, Sept. 18 when they host No. 22 Doane (7-7, 0-2 GPAC). The Tigers have suffered GPAC losses on the road against 11th-ranked Hastings and Morningside. Concordia hopes to snap a five-match series losing streak versus Doane.