SEWARD, Neb. – Three GPAC matches. Nine sets. Still perfect. The Concordia University Volleyball team has rolled through three tests against in-state conference rivals in impressive fashion. On Saturday (Sept. 19), the Bulldogs played in front of the home fans for the first time in 2020 and toppled Hastings, 25-21, 25-21, 25-19.
Third-year Head Coach Ben Boldt’s squad has also beaten Midland and Doane (both on the road) as part of the sterling start. Concordia strives to be connected and resilient – two buzz words inside the program. They have exhibited those qualities thus far.
“The energy was awesome. I loved the crowd,” Boldt said. “I think we fed off that a little bit. Once we get to game point people create that momentum and that energy for our players. They want to perform well for our fans.”
It feels especially like home for Seward High School product Camryn Opfer. She enjoyed her best outing of the season to date by filling the stat sheet with 12 kills, nine digs, three blocks and an ace. Opfer did so against a Hastings squad with plenty of height on its side of the net. The Broncos used that size to stay even with the Bulldogs in the blocking department, 8-8.
It’s just not so easy to keep up with a team with such a variety of weapons and skillsets. All-American setter Tara Callahan plays the role of maestro in finding Opfer and others such as budding star freshman middle Gabi Nordaker. It was another fine performance for Nordaker, who swatted 13 more kills (.611 hitting percentage) and was in on all eight of the Concordia blocks.
“We’re really embracing our core values of resilient and connected,” Opfer said. “We’re always there for each other and cheering each other on, and I think we’ve just really embraced that.”
It could be debated whether the Bulldogs have needed to show a whole lot of resiliency to this point. The Broncos (3-2, 2-1 GPAC) held early leads in sets, but never when the team scores hovered near the 20-point mark. As an example, Hastings took a quick 6-4 advantage in the third set, but Concordia turned it around and led 13-7. It coasted from there before Kara Stark pounded a kill for match point.
The Bulldogs could have perhaps crumbled when the Broncos made a push in the opening set to get within 23-21, but that’s not in the DNA of this Concordia program. Said Boldt, “Mostly I’ve been happy with how resilient we’ve been. It hasn’t always been pretty with our team. We might have a couple in a row where we don’t get the point, but I see it in our players’ eyes that they trust each other to say, ‘Hey, I trust that you’re going to get it on the next ball.’ We can obviously execute better, but I think that trust is there.”
Concordia outhit Hastings, .222 to .156. Callahan finished with 34 assists and eight digs. Arleigh Costello was also effective from the right side in putting away nine kills with a .350 hitting percentage. Marissa Hoerman added nine digs and dropped in four of her side’s seven aces.
The Broncos, who own wins over College of Saint Mary and Midland, got eight kills apiece from Lucy Skoch and Marlee Taylor. Skoch was also credited with six block assists.
Up next for the Bulldogs is Wednesday’s home matchup with Mount Marty (5-6, 0-2 GPAC). First serve from Walz Arena is set for 7:30 p.m. CT.
Concordia Volleyball vs Hastings College https://t.co/RIuZTRvdO5
— 104.9 Max Country (@1049maxcountry) September 20, 2020