SEWARD, Neb. – A sneaky good Peru State College team invaded Walz Arena and waltzed away with a 25-17, 25-21, 26-24 upset of the host and 20th-ranked Bulldogs on Tuesday night. The hot-starting Bobcats held the Concordia University volleyball team to an uncharacteristic .110 hitting percentage while moving to 4-1 this season.
Fifth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s program had entered the evening with a home record of 23-7 since the start of the 2014 season. The Bulldogs are now 1-1 on the year since opening the 2016 campaign on Aug. 20.
“They’re really solid. Their passing was phenomenal tonight,” Mattera said of Peru State. “We served pretty OK, and they passed every ball. Their blocking was significantly better than we planned on. They ran a pretty efficient offense, but really what it came down to is we can’t hit .110. That’s not our identity. That’s not who we are. We’re an offensive team that spreads it out.”
Senior Tiegen Skains enjoyed by far the most success among Concordia attackers on Tuesday. She laced 13 kills on 27 swings (five errors) from her spot on the right side. At the net, the Bobcats posed problems with the trio of Alex Bowman, Nadkja Janjevic and Rian Kirby. They helped Peru State pile up 11 total blocks and never allowed the Bulldogs to post a hitting percentage higher than .143 in any single set.
Making matters more difficult, junior middle Annie Friesen left the court early in the second set with an apparent injury. She did not return. Instead the middle was held down by senior Taylor Workman and freshman Emmie Noyd. The two combined for six kills.
“It’s a good one to get on film and we can learn a ton from this,” Mattera said. “This is a perfect film game early in the season to say, ‘This is what beat us tonight.’ Now we need to change this. I know we’re capable of doing that.”
Concordia came up an eyelash short of sending the match to a fourth set. The Bulldogs led in the third, 24-23 after having rallied back from a 20-18 deficit. Late points via an Alex La Plant kill, Raymi Marquardt ace and Paige Getz kill got a loud crowd into it. But poised Peru State never wavered. Back-to-back kills by Kirby and Brooke Rudebusch and then an ace by Cristina Viera squelched the comeback bid. Kirby finished with a match high 14 kills.
Senior Alayna Kavanaugh topped Concordia in both assists (27) and digs (13). Fellow senior Naomi Quigg added a pair of aces.
The Bulldogs will now take their act on the road for a challenging four-match stay at the Big Sky Challenge hosted by Montana Tech. The event, which runs Friday and Saturday, will unfold inside the Civic Center in Butte, Mont. Concordia will take on a pair of top-15 ranked opponents in Montana (see schedule below).
Concordia at the Big Sky Challenge
Friday – 12 p.m. MT / 1 p.m. CT vs. University of Great Falls (Mont.)
Friday – 5 p.m. MT / 6 p.m. CT vs. Carroll College (Mont.)
Saturday – 9 a.m. MT / 10 a.m. CT vs. (8) Eastern Oregon University
Saturday – 1 p.m. MT / 2 p.m. CT vs. (15) Rocky Mountain College (Mont.)