CUNE Volleyball heading to first NAIA Tournament

Posted By: Sports

Story Courtesy: Concordia Athletics

SEWARD, Neb. – The Concordia University volleyball program’s historic 2015 journey will continue into the opening round of the NAIA Volleyball National Championships. On Monday the NAIA announced the Bulldogs as one of eight at-large teams and one of 36 total qualifiers in the tournament field. Concordia will make its first-ever national tournament appearance on Saturday when it hosts Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.) at 1:30 p.m. CT.

Fourth-year head coach Scott Mattera’s squad, ranked 16th in the latest national poll released on Monday, entered the day squarely on the bubble. Just after 10 a.m., players and staff members gathered in the Walz Conference Room and celebrated as Concordia appeared on the screen during the NAIA’s selection show. The Bulldogs were slotted seventh among the eight at-large qualifiers.

Concordia’s resume includes an overall record of 26-8, a mark of 6-4 versus ranked opponents and a GPAC tournament runner-up claim. The Bulldogs have earned top-25 ratings in nine-consecutive polls, rising as high as 15th.

Meanwhile, Olivet Nazarene punched its ticket to the national tournament by winning the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference regular-season championship. The Tigers own a record of 23-16 overall. Guided by 20th-year head coach Brenda Williams, Olivet Nazarene won 17 of its 19 conference matches. The Tigers did not receive votes this week in the national poll after falling to the University of Saint Francis in the semifinals of the CCAC tournament.

Concordia and Olivet Nazarene shared eight common opponents during the 2015 season. Against those foes, the Bulldogs went 7-4. The Tigers went 4-7 against those same opponents. Olivet Nazarene pushed Midland to five sets in a loss on Sept. 4. It also fell in four sets to Hastings that same day.

Saturday’s opening round contest will be carried live via the Concordia Sports Network. Max Country (104.9 KTMX-FM) will also broadcast the action with Frank Greene on the call.

The 2015 Bulldogs have reached unchartered territory. Even the 1981 and 1995 Concordia Athletic Hall of Fame teams fell short of reaching the national tournament. The 1995 squad went 40-10 overall and came up one win shy at the regional tournament in its bid to reach nationals.

With a national tournament berth still hanging in the balance, here’s what five different Bulldogs had to say last week about the possibility of playing on the grand stage:

Junior Alayna Kavanaugh: “We all talk about it and want it to happen. We’re planning on it happening. It would be a great experience in making history again.”

Sophomore Annie Friesen: “That would be incredible. It would be a dream come true.”

Senior Claire White: “There’s no better time to do it. We’re going to do it. Obviously this is my last chance. I think it’s a great program in general with the girls we have. I think this would be the year definitely to do it.”

Junior Paige Getz: “I try not to think about it yet. We’re trying to get that GPAC win. I know it will be a crazy environment with lots of good teams out there. It will be fun.”

Junior Tiegen Skains: “I think it would be awesome. Walz is a lot of fun, especially when we have a huge crowd and the band going. It’s cool to have one of those things where it’s never happened before and knowing you’re part of that is awesome.”