Photo description: CUNE Volleyball talks strategy during a time out as they prepare to return to play
Photo credit: Bailey Mooney
The No. 1 ranked Concordia Bulldogs volleyball team will match up with a familiar Great Plains Athletic Conference opponent Friday night at Friedrich Arena as they welcome the defending champion No. 14 Jamestown Jimmies.
The Bulldogs currently are 15-0 overall and 8-0 in the GPAC, one of three undefeated teams in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. The Bulldogs got their first No. 1 ranking in the NAIA Coaches poll that was released Sept. 27.
Concordia has played aggressively and stayed in control of every game, avoiding a fifth set all year. The team has four wins over teams in the top 25, including No. 8 Park University, No. 10 Midland, No. 11 College of Saint Mary, and No. 20 Kansas Wesleyan University. The GPAC conference has proven to be one of the toughest to play in, with five squads in the top 25.
The Bulldogs have the highest kills per set in the NAIA, with Ashely Keck at the top for the Bulldogs at .354 kills per set. The team’s NAIA leading hitting percentage, at .300, has given the team great efficiency in sets led by Gabi Nordaker at .394 and Carly Rodaway at .340.
The offense has heavily relied on Bree Burtwistle to set the attackers, and she earned her fourth GPAC setter of the week honors. As the team prepares to face off against Jamestown, Coach Ben Boldt has kept the focus on getting better at things they can control.
“We are focused on staying aggressive in practice and keeping that energy that we want to embody, and focused on getting better,” Boldt said.
The defending champion Jimmies, at 15-5 and 8-0, have had regular season success in the GPAC as of late, only losing one conference game since 2021.
Concordia has met the Jimmies five times in the past three seasons and has lost each time, including twice in the last two GPAC Tournament Championships.
While the Jimmies struggled out of the gate this year, the team is undefeated in conference play, including getting a fifth-set victory over No. 2 Northwestern on Sept. 8.
Concordia is hoping to have a big crowd on Friday, dressed in navy blue to support the Bulldogs. The snack bar will also be giving away hotdogs to the first 50 fans who make it to Friedrich Arena. Having a big home crowd make a supportive environment is a big help to the Bulldogs’ team.
“We really appreciate all the support this community has brought,” Boldt said. “We are super excited to have a great crowd and great support. I think that the energy [they bring] is something that we are excited about and get behind.”
The match will start Friday at 7:30 p.m. and will be a big step toward the Bulldogs claiming their first GPAC regular season title, the first of Boldt’s tenure.