SEWARD, Neb. – It’s been a week of taking care of business at home. The second-ranked Concordia University Volleyball team made sure not to overlook Dordt on homecoming Saturday (Sept. 23) while waltzing to a brisk 25-14, 25-14, 25-14, victory over the visitors from Sioux Center, Iowa. There were moments when a rash of service errors came from both sides, but the Bulldogs were never seriously threatened as they hit .318 for the afternoon.
Head Coach Ben Boldt’s squad has moved to 13-0 (6-0 GPAC) and remains one of three NAIA squads with unblemished records on the season. Concordia is 13-0 to start a campaign for the first time during the six years of leadership under Ben and Angie Boldt.
“I was really proud of our focus and how we came out,” Ben Boldt said. “We really responded in a week where it starts to become a grind. Mentally, how do we respond to all those things? I thought we came out and were focused and refocused when we needed to.
“We were smart and aggressive. There were a couple hitting errors we had that were good hitting errors, if you can call it that. We don’t mind if you’re going for it and it goes out of bounds or if they make a good block.”
As a sign of what was to come, the Bulldogs rattled off the first eight points of the match. That run was bookended by kills from Camryn Opfer and Carly Rodaway. On the pins, those two Concordia attackers were solid on a day characterized by another balanced statistical outing. Ashley Keck led the way with 10 kills in addition to six digs. Four of her teammates registered at least five kills: Opfer (eight), Gabi Nordaker (seven), Rodaway (seven) and Maddie Paulsen (five). The ladder three attackers each hit at least .375.
Quite simply, Concordia was a much cleaner team in competing only 11 attacking errors. The Bulldogs also landed 11 aces (from seven different players), led by three from Opfer. In the third set, Addie Smith entered and promptly put away an ace as the Bulldogs ran away with it. On the other side of the net, the Defenders (1-11, 0-6 GPAC) managed only one ace compared to eight service errors.
Concordia enjoyed a 6-3 blocking advantage and produced 45 digs in the process of holding Dordt to .045 hitting for the contest. Nordaker was part of five blocks and Rodaway assisted on four blocks. In the back row, Becca Gebhardt paced all players with 14 digs. In another strong performance, Bree Burtwistle totaled 31 assists and two aces.
A regular national qualifier, Dordt is still searching for its first conference win of the season. The Defenders were paced on Saturday by six kills from Tarren Spartz. Riley Doenhoefer and Ellie Dokter chipped in with five kills apiece.
A solid group of student supporters dressed appropriately for the homecoming whiteout. The crowds figure to grow in number as the stakes continue to raise for a Concordia team expecting to claim the No. 1 NAIA national ranking when the new poll comes out next week.
Said Boldt, “I love to be able to be part of the community and be something the community is proud of. We want to put an awesome product out there. We’re all here – Bulldogs for Bulldogs. It’s a great environment.”
The Bulldogs will take a break in the middle of next week while they prepare for a road trip to Sioux City, Iowa, the weekend of Sept. 29-30. As part of that journey, Concordia will take on Briar Cliff (6-13, 1-4 GPAC) at 7:30 p.m. CT on Sept. 29 before going head-to-head with Morningside (8-11, 2-4 GPAC) at 3 p.m. on Sept. 30. The Bulldogs will be back at home the weekend of Oct. 6-7.