SEWARD, Neb. – The results have been cruel lately for a Concordia University Volleyball team that has been right there with a chance to win in virtually every single match this season. For a fourth GPAC outing in a row, the No. 23 Bulldogs were clipped in five sets. This time it was 18th-ranked Dordt that emerged from Friedrich Arena with a 16-25, 25-17, 18-25, 26-24, 15-13, win on Saturday (Oct. 9) afternoon. The hitting percentages (.166 to .163 in Concordia’s favor) were an indication of a hotly contested battle.
Head Coach Ben Boldt’s squad has slipped to 9-9 overall and to 4-6 within the GPAC. The competitive fire has been there every day for the Bulldogs.
“It was another great match,” Boldt said. “Early in the fifth set we were playing it safe. That was one of the things that happened in our last match that went 15-13. We made an adjustment and that was what I was most proud of. You saw us at the end there taking aggressive, smart swings. It’s got to be that starting from point zero of the match. In the end game, we were much better than we were in the past.”
The run of tough results has not been about heart or effort. Concordia’s fight was obvious in the fourth set when it trailed 22-15 and then came back to tie it, 24-24. Back-to-back kills by the Defenders’ Corrina Timmermans pushed the match to a fifth set. The Bulldogs also charged back from a 9-3 deficit in the fifth set and got within 14-13 after a Camryn Opfer kill. Alli Timmermans then clinched it for Dordt with the match-point kill.
Kills were not easy to come by on Saturday. Very few attackers posted pleasant hitting percentages. In Concordia’s back row, four players notched at least 14 digs: Tara Callahan (22), Rebecca Gebhardt (17), Opfer (17) and Cassidy Knust (14). The lefty Alli Timmermans caused the Bulldogs the most trouble. She powered down 22 kills on 40 swings. Concordia kept most of the other Dordt attackers in check.
“I thought our defense was better than it had been in terms of keeping the ball alive,” Boldt said. “We didn’t make it easy on anybody. It was a well-earned, gritty match. That’s what you get every time out in the GPAC.”
On the attack, Gabi Nordaker produced 13 kills while hitting .360 for the Bulldogs. At one point in the match, Nordaker left with an apparent injury, but then quickly returned to the court. Erica Heinzerling also added 13 kills and Kalee Wiltfong put away 11. Callahan finished with 47 assists.
The Defenders (12-5, 4-4 GPAC) won twice this week. Allie Timmermans was joined by Corrina Timmermans (14) and Danielle Vande Voort (10) with double figures in kills. Erica Bousema racked up a match high 37 digs. The Bulldogs had the edge in blocking, 12-9, behind six total blocks from Wiltfong.
Prior to first serve, Concordia honored a senior class that includes Arleigh Costello, Kayla Ernstmeyer, Erica Heinzerling, Morgan Nibbe and Jadeyn Stutzman. The senior group has been part of two trips to the final site of the NAIA national tournament.
The Bulldogs will have the middle of this coming week off while preparing for a trip to Sioux City, Iowa, to take on Briar Cliff (7-13, 1-8 GPAC) on Oct. 15 and Morningside (10-15, 1-9 GPAC) on Oct. 16.