Jimmies impress in 3-0 sweep of Bulldogs
At no point did Friday's match feel out of reach for the University of Jamestown women's volleyball team, but if there was a chance for things to go pear-shaped the Jimmies quashed it in the second set.
Leading Concordia University 1-0 in the match and trailing 19-17 in the second, the defending Great Plains Athletic Conference tournament champions found another level. Led by three of senior middle blocker Corina Huff's match-high 11 kills and two more from freshman outside Nicole Schmitz, the Jimmies rattled off a 7-0 run to take a commanding 24-19 lead and a Kalli Hegerle spike from the right side ended it 25-22 Jimmies.
UJ overpowered the Bulldogs with a .379 attacking percentage in a third frame and rolled 25-18, completing an impressive 3-0 sweep over one of the best women's volleyball teams in the GPAC.
"We knew that this was going to be one of the better competitions we were going to play this season," Huff said. "We were practicing all week for it, we were fired up and we just went after it."
Directed by third-year head coach Ben Boldt, the Bulldogs had lost just once in eight matches entering the night -- a 3-1 setback to Northwestern on Oct. 10 -- and boast one of the best setters in the conference in the All American honorable mention Tara Callahan.
Callahan finished with 28 assists, finding junior right side Arleigh Costello for a team-high 10 kills, but Jamestown would never let Concordia's offense get fully settled. Pressure came mostly via the Jimmies' block and back-row defending, leading to a .091 hitting percentage by the Bulldogs in the match.
Camryn Opfer, the 2019 GPAC Freshman of the Year, finished with nine kills, while middle Gabi Nordaker, the GPAC's Week 2 attacker of the week, posted six kills.
"They're a good team," said Boldt, whose Bulldogs fell to the Jimmies in five sets twice last season. "We're gonna take a look in the mirror. I think it was us hitting low into the block, so when we do that against a good team I think that's the hitting percentage that you're gonna have."
Veteran Jimmie coach Jon Hegerle was impressed. He too, like most folks in the gym, felt a confident vibe flowing from the Jimmies' side of the court all night. The Jimmies (9-0, 7-0 GPAC) separated themselves from Concordia (7-2, 7-2) in the conference standings with Northwestern (9-1, 7-1) grabbing sole ownership of second.
Northwestern swept Doane Friday night and suffered a 3-0 loss to Dordt (7-5, 6-5) on Oct. 5.
"Of course I'm a little biased, but I think we probably have the best back row in the country and so that makes it easier for our blockers to take some risks," Hegerle said. "If they miss it, we're gonna pick it up and that makes it pretty tough on another team when the ball just keeps coming up and over and over and over."
The Jimmies scored nine total blocks, with Kalli Hegerle (2), Huff (2) and Jayla Ritter (2) leading the way.
The Jimmies hit .244 overall, which might not look overpowering but nobody wearing orange and black hit negative. The team committed just 13 attacking errors on 119 attempts.
Junior defensive specialist Hannah Schiele scored three of UJ's six service aces and Anna Holen and Sydney Ellingson led the back row with 12 and 11 digs, respectively.
"We had things in control most of the match," coach Hegerle said. "It never seemed liked we were panicked or things were too difficult. I just felt it was a really good team effort.
"(Concordia) had a hard time running a lot of stuff and we just got under their skin, and that's one thing that we do."
Concordia plays Dakota Wesleyan (8-6, 4-6) Saturday at the Corn Palace.
"We're gonna stay connected, we'll stay resilient," Boldt said. "We can't dwell on this. It's probably the best thing for us to get back out there and play."
The Jimmies will be back on the Newman Arena floor Saturday at 5 p.m. hosting Midland (4-5, 3-4).
"We love this game and we were blessed to have the opportunity to play volleyball every day," Huff said. "We just wanna get that mentality going every time."
Jamestown 3, Concordia 0
CON 22 22 18
JAM 25 25 25
CON -- Kills: Arleigh Costello 10, Kara Stark 9, Camryn Opfer 9, Gabi Nordaker 6, Tara Callahan 2, Tatum Kuti. Assists: Callahan 28, Opfer, Costello, Marissa Hoerman. Aces: Hoerman 2, Tristin Mason. Digs: Mason 14, Opfer 14, Hoerman 13, Callahan 6, Kuti 4, Nordaker. Blocks: Nordaker 3, Costello 1, Callahan 0.5, Kalee Wiltfong 0.5.
JAM -- Kills: Corina Huff 11, Kalli Hegerle 8, Taylor Sabinash 7, Nicole Schmitz 6, Anna Holen 6, Jayla Ritter 3, Sydney Ellingson. Assists: Jackie Meiklejohn 17, Megan Gaffaney 14, Hegerle, Ellie Holen. Aces: Schiele 3, E. Holen 2, Meiklejohn. Digs: A. Holen 12, Ellingson 11, Hannah Schiele 7, Jackie Meiklejohn 7, E. Holen 3, Sabinash 2, Huff, Hegerle, Gaffaney. Blocks: Ritter 2, Huff 2, Hegerle 2, Schmitz 1.5, Holen 1, Sabinash 0.5
Records: Jamestown 9-0, 7-0 GPAC. Concordia 7-2, 7-2 GPAC.