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Home Sports No. 1 Bulldogs’ perfect season ends with sweep loss to No. 3...

Photo description: Sophomore Ashley Keck looks on as senior Camryn Opfer and freshman Maddie Paulsen go up for a double block

Photo credit: Bailey Mooney (Photo from previous game)

Darien Semedo

Sower Staff


The No. 1 Concordia Bulldogs volleyball team (17-1, 11-1) suffered their first loss of the season at the hands of the No. 3 Northwestern Raiders (19-2, 10-2) as the offense struggled to gain ground against the top-blocking team in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.

The Bulldogs came into Orange City, Iowa, looking to cement their chances for a Great Plains Athletic Conference regular season championship, but their efforts came up short Saturday.

Coming off their impressive weekend, the Bulldogs were rewarded with junior Gabi Nordaker getting attacker of the week and senior Bree Burtwistle getting setter of the week in the GPAC.

The Bulldogs still sported the No. 1 attacking offense in the NAIA heading into the game, but Northwestern was tied for the highest total blocks in the NAIA, setting up a classic battle between an unstoppable force and an immovable object.

The first set was tight, with both teams fighting for a lead early. The Raiders were able to jump out ahead 17-13, but the Bulldogs jumped out of a timeout aggressively, tying things up at 19 all. Concordia couldn’t close the set out, unfortunately, with an opportunity at 24-23 to get an early set advantage.

Northwestern responded by scoring three in a row and taking the first set 26-24. Northwestern’s block seemed to create tight windows, leading to the Bulldogs offense hitting .136 with four Northwestern blocks.

The Bulldogs also finished the set with 10 errors, which proved to be a trend too much to overcome in the afternoon. The Bulldogs had rarely played from behind this year, but bounced back last week against the Jimmies.

The No. 1 offense just could not get past Northwestern front, hitting .106 in the second set as well. As the third set settled in, the momentum proved to be too much as Northwestern closed Concordia out 25-18 in an error-filled set (13).

Concordia hit a measly .052 in the afternoon for 36 kills and 29 attacking errors. The Raiders did not do much on the offensive side either, with a .187 hit percentage for 42 kills, but their calling card has been defense this season.

Northwestern added 12 blocks to their high-ranking total, and a signature win against a ranked opponent this season as the GPAC conference battle has become tight.

The Bulldogs’ individual leaders were sophomore Ashley Keck with 10 kills, senior Camryn Opfer with 20 digs, Bree Burtwistle with 30 assists and Gabi Nordaker with four blocks.

Nordaker has enjoyed an efficient year on offense, but Northwestern focused in on her, leading to a team-leading eight errors.

Head Coach Ben Boldt will have to rally his troops quickly, as the Bulldogs are still in the driver’s seat in the GPAC. The Bulldogs will look to rebound against Doane University (5-16, 3-8) and College of Saint Mary (19-5, 8-4).

Saint Mary already has a conference win over Northwestern, making the upcoming match very important for the Bulldogs’ race for a regular-season title. With a win, the Bulldogs will remain tied at the top with Jamestown, against whom they have the tiebreaker.

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