SEWARD, Neb. – “Clean” may be the best one-word description of how the Concordia University volleyball team performed on Saturday (Aug. 31), which marked the second and final day of the Bulldog Bash. After dropping a set for the first time this season, the Bulldogs were quite dominant the rest of the day while taking victories over Mayville State University (N.D.), 25-27, 25-14, 25-17, 25-15, and Benedictine College (Kan.), 25-9, 25-18, 25-14.
Head coach Ben Boldt’s program welcomed six squads to the weekend event. A perfect 3-0 record at the Bash pushed Concordia’s mark to 7-0 overall this season. It has won each of its last 19 matches against nonconference opponents.
“We responded very well (after falling in the day’s first set),” Boldt said. “After the set happened as we’re changing sides, I told Angie, ‘Hey, we lost a set. Let’s see how we respond from it.’ We came back and refocused. That’s the biggest thing that we’ve talked about, especially in practice. When things aren’t going our way, how quickly can we refocus? We did a good job with that and started playing the way that we know how.”
The serve and pass games for the Bulldogs have progressed in obvious ways. Through seven matches, Concordia’s foes have a ratio of seven aces to 38 service errors. When you can combine that work with a prolific attack, then it’s all over for the opposition. The Bulldogs sizzled by hitting .380 in both matches on Saturday.
Over the closing three sets of the day’s first match, Concordia put up respective hitting percentages of .667, .405 and .452. Sophomore lefty Arleigh Costello scorched the Comets (2-6) by going off for a career high 18 kills. Setter Tara Callahan loaded up with 60 assists while also often finding the likes of Emmie Noyd (15 kills), Camryn Opfer (14 kills) and Kara Stark (14 kills).
That led into one of the best performances of the young season for the Bulldogs, who throttled Benedictine (5-4). Noyd powdered 13 more kills and Opfer added another 12. Concordia hit .400 in the first set and then .619 in the third to close it out. The Bulldogs had no issues finishing strong on this particular day.
“We played a clean match versus Benedictine,” Boldt said. “We played our game and we didn’t play their game, essentially. It was great serving. We won the serve and pass game and we funneled their attackers to where we wanted to set them up. Defensively and offensively we played really well.”
Callahan was credited with 94 assists for the day while Noyd totaled a team high 28 kills (.434 hitting percentage). Defensively, junior Marissa Hoerman topped the back row on Saturday with 26 digs while receiving help from senior Kaylie Dengel (18 digs). Noyd chipped in five blocks and freshmen middle Kaylee Wiltfong was in on six blocks. Kaci Hohenthaner notched three aces on the day.
The victory a week ago over No. 19 Corban University (Ore.) has helped to legitimize Concordia’s hot start. However, the Bulldogs understand that the real proving ground will come when competing inside the NAIA’s toughest volleyball conference.
“I said in the postgame talk with them that next up is the GPAC,” Boldt said. “It’s been our motivator all offseason long. Now it’s here. We want to be able to go get our goals. The message before the match today was that you’re not going to be able to avoid the obstacles in your life. You need to face them and you need to fight them. It’s out in front of us and we’re excited about it.”
The Bulldogs will take their shot at No. 14 Hastings (2-5) when the Broncos visit Walz Arena for a 7:30 p.m. CT match on Wednesday. Though Hastings has five early losses, each of them have come at the hands of top 25 foes.