ST. PAUL, Minn. – No. 3 Concordia shut out No. 2 Southwest Minnesota 3-0 in a battle of NSIC powerhouses on Friday at the Gangelhoff Center. The set scores were 25-19, 25-20 and 28-26. The Golden Bears ended the Mustangs’ run of seven-straight victories, while improving to 7-1 overall and 1-0 in the NSIC. SMSU falls to 7-1 overall and 0-1 in the league.
Concordia jumped out to a 6-2 lead in the first set. The Golden Bears went on an 8-to-3 run midway through the set to take a comfortable 21-13 lead, but the Mustangs battled back to cut the deficit to three at 22-19. CU closed the set, though, on a kill by Kayla Koenecke and two errors by SMSU. Koenecke end the first with six kills on eight attempts for a .625 attack percentage.
The second started as a back-and-forth battle as SMSU slightly edged the Bears to a 16-14 advantage. Concordia then claimed six of the next seven points for a 20-17 lead before the Mustangs came back with three of the next four, but the Bears ended the set on a pair of kills from Koenecke and a couple errors on the visitors. Ellie Duffy was the offensive leader in the second set with eight kills and a .500 attack rate. As a team, the Bears hit at a .425 clip.
The third set tested each team throughout with 15 scoring ties and seven lead changes. The lead switched sides four times in the first nine points for a 5-4 Concordia lead and never trailed until a kill by Devin Diedrich put the Mustangs up 21-20 late in the set. CU regained the lead two points later only to give it back in the ensuing two points for a 23-22 SMSU lead. The Mustangs held set-point twice, but the Bears answered and took a 27-26 lead on a kill by Koenecke. The set was then won on a ball handling error, giving the Bears the shutout.
Koenecke and Duffy led the Bears on the attack with 16 kills each. Koenecke hit at a .538 percentage, while Duffy posted a .438 mark. Kara Pioske paced the squad on the receiving end with a game-high 13 digs. And Amanda Konetchy recorded 47 of the team’s 50 assists.