For those in the season-high crowd of 215 that showed up at the Minot State University Dome to see what a title-winning volleyball team looks like, Concordia-St. Paul (Minn.) didn't disappoint.
The No. 6 Golden Bears, the winners of five straight national championships, dominated the first and third games of a match against MSU on Friday, sweeping the Beavers 25-12, 25-18, 25-12.
C-SP (14-3 overall, 8-2 Northern Sun) never trailed in the opening game and compiled a blistering .522 hitting percentage.
Minot State University freshman outside hitter Mallory Sall hits the ball against two Concordia-St. Paul (Minn.) blockers during C-SP’s win Friday at the MSU Dome.
The Beavers (4-16, 0-10) were more competitive in the second game, leading early before surrendering the lead. MSU pulled within 18-15 before C-SP won seven of 10 points to close the game.
"We were just consistent," MSU coach Travis Ward said. "We passed pretty well through a middle stretch in that second game and kind of were able to extend a few more rallies, and made a couple more scrappy plays that we haven't really been able to make this year."
C-SP senior outside hitter Ellie Duffy tallied all of her 10 kills in the first two games. Senior middle blocker Cassie Haag picked up the slack in game three, notching five of her match-high 12 kills.
"That's kind of what we expect out of those guys," C-SP coach Brady Starkey said. "They're talented and they're seniors so they got up and were playing aggressive right off the bat."
When the Golden Bears got an accurate pass to junior setter Amanda Konetchy, it usually ended badly for the Beavers. Konetchy, an All-American and the nation's leader in assists per game last year, dished out 34 assists, often isolating one MSU blocker on a C-SP hitter.
"Their setter is ridiculous, in a good way," Ward said. "She's a lot of fun to watch. She dishes the ball as well as anyone does. She's like having the best quarterback in the league, and she's the best setter we've seen this year so far with how she moves the ball around."
Senior Shari Hewson and freshmen Mallory Sall and Tarah Dabovich tied for the MSU lead with six kills each. Dabovich was the most efficient, getting her kills on just nine attempts.
"Once we got our passing down, we kind of went off on them a little bit," Dabovich said of the second game. "They were a really good team. They're really consistent, and that's something we need to work on a little bit."
After a Dabovich kill knotted game three at 6-6, C-SP went on a 10-0 run to put the match away.
Despite the lopsided score, Ward was pleased with the way his inexperienced team battled.
"One of the things that our kids are starting to learn is that these people that are winning national championships, we've got a long ways to go but they're reachable," he said. "They're not these teams that are so far ahead of where our kids are that they can't compete with them. I think in these next two years, it's gonna go where they're starting to take a game, and then pretty soon they're starting to take a match and people don't wanna play us because we're winning a lot."
The Beavers host No. 13 Minnesota State-Mankato at 5 p.m. today.