SEWARD, Neb. – Missing some key pieces on Saturday, the Concordia University volleyball team faced a stiff challenge on Saturday afternoon when No. 9 Dordt invaded Walz Arena. The Defenders lived up to their nickname in holding the Bulldogs to a -.010 attacking percentage in the process of winning, 25-18, 25-17, 25-22.
It was a rare home defeat for fifth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s program, which is now 34-9 over its last 43 home matches. While Dordt took the first two sets in impressive fashion, Concordia (10-9, 2-3 GPAC) responded with a strong showing in the final set.
“We’re never going to be happy with a loss, but we showed in that third game who we can be,” Mattera said. “We got in the huddle there and said, ‘That felt like us again.’ They were having a blast, being goofy and fighting hard. That’s who we have to be.”
With two-time first team all-conference setter Alayna Kavanaugh sidelined by injury, freshman Emma Brand made her first career start. The Bulldogs have also been without the services of 2015 first team all-league selection Annie Friesen, who had surgery this week on her knee. Not only that, freshman middle Emmie Noyd was also unable to answer the bell.
Those situations necessitated some tinkering by Mattera, who used Mikayla Higgins extensively on the outside. He also tried some new looks in the middle with Paige Getz, Jenna Habegger and Tiegen Skains moving inside at times.
Considering the opponent and the lineup changes, Mattera termed it a “nothing to lose” type of match.
“I’m proud of the fight, especially in the third game,” Mattera said. “This was Emma’s first start of her career. You could see her get more and more comfortable as the match went on. She was awfully good in that third set. She really starting connecting with Taylor (Workman). Then you think about it. We had Annie and Emmie out. We asked Tiegen, Paige and ‘Hobbs’ to play middle, and they’ve never played middle before in college.”
Defensively, Concordia more than held its own against a Dordt team that entered the match ranked 13th nationally in hitting percentage. The Defenders (11-3, 4-1 GPAC) hit only .146 on Saturday, though they put 39 points away via kills. Nine of those kills came from Ema Altena. Haley Moss was their most efficient attacker, going for six kills on 11 swings.
Brand dished out 17 assists in taking over the setter role. Workman topped the Bulldogs with five kills to go along with her four blocks. Four kills apiece came from Getz and freshman Alex La Plant.
Up next is a trip to play No. 4 Hastings (13-2, 4-1 GPAC) at 7:30 p.m. CT on Wednesday. The Broncos’ lone GPAC loss came at home to No. 1 Midland. Max Country (104.9 FM) will have the call on Wednesday.