WAYNE — Concordia-St. Paul rallied from a 16-9 deficit in the fourth set to beat the University of Nebraska at Kearney in the first round of the NCAA Division II Tournament.
Five Bulldogs scored double-digit kills and the team threw up 17 blocks to beat the Lopers 25-19, 22-25, 17-25, 25-21, 15-10 Friday afternoon in Wayne.
“A disappointing loss because of the fact we kind of had it right there in front of us,” UNK coach Rick Squiers said in the postgame press conference. “Credit Concordia for reaching down and finding another gear, especially from the service line. All of a sudden a lot of serves they were missing earlier started finding the court and disrupted our offense a little bit.”
The No. 3-ranked Bulldogs (27-5) disrupted UNK’s offense with the block in the first set. The Lopers (28-6) had a negative hitting percentage most of the set before finishing with a posting .091 mark.
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That efficiency skyrocketed to .464 for the second set and .419 in the third set as UNK took charge. But the Bulldogs regrouped during a timeout in the fourth set.
“We had a couple verbal adjustments ... some specific language we won’t use here,” CSP coach Brady Starkey said.
The blocking game, led by Katie Mattson with 10, came back into play as did the serves. The Bulldogs finished with nine ace serves, four by Jasmine Mulvihill.
“They started getting a little tight when e started making a little push in that fourth game,” Starkey said.
And the momentum carried the Bulldogs through the fifth set “and that’s the reason we got the W,” Starkey said.
Concordia finished with 66 kills to UNK’s 58. Mulvihill led CSP with 14 kills and eight blocks to go with her four aces. Emma Schmidt had a team-high 16 kills and Katie Mattson had 11 kills and 10 blocks. Kennedy Brady came through with 12 kills, Makenna Berger had 11 and Mattson had 11.
Emersen Cyza led UNK with 19 kills while Asha Regier had 14 and Lauren Taubenheim had 10. Peyton Neff logged 49 set assists.
“It’s obviously really frustrating how it turned out, how we didn’t get the win,” said UNK’s Bailee Sterling, who had eight kills and four blocks. “We were right there. That’s what kind of hurts the most. ... We just let them get ahead too much in the fifth set.”
Concordia-St. Paul advances to play Minnesota-Duluth in the Central Region Tournament semifinals. Duluth defeated Washburn 21-25, 25-21, 25-19, 25-19.