Concordia-St. Paul defeats BYU-Hawaii to go to sixth title game in a row
PENSACOLA, Fla. - Concordia-St. Paul (32-4) defeated BYU-Hawaii 3-1 on Friday in the NCAA semifinals (20-25, 25-11, 25-19, 25-14) on the campus of West Florida.
The win improves Concordia's NCAA tournament win streak to 35 consecutive matches, as its all-time tournament record improves to 43-4 in 10 appearances. Concordia is now a perfect 7-0 in seven trips to the semifinals.
“Our girls did a really good job of defending the court,” Concordia head coach Brady Starkey said. “Everything they threw at us, we defended as hard as we could. Our serve receive did a really good job of fighting to get us in system and allow our offense flourish.”
BYU-Hawaii opened the match with a 4-1 lead in the first set and didn’t look back the rest of the frame. Concordia tied the score at nine, but was never able to take the lead. The Seasiders gained their largest lead of the set at 20-15 to force a CU timeout. After the break, the Golden Bears responded with four of the next six points for a 22-19 deficit, but BYU-Hawaii ended the set with four of the final five points.
The Golden Bears responded with a dominating second set. They improved their hitting percentage from .227 (14-4-44) to .643 (19-1-28) for a 25-11 victory. Leading 13-10 midway through the set, the Bears rallied for nine straight points with Kayla Koenecke (Delano, Minn.) on the serve to take a comfortable 22-10 advantage.
In the third set, the two squads battled back and forth with nine scoring ties and five lead changes in the first 25 rallies. The last lead change of the set occurred on a Koenecke kill, giving the Bears a 13-12 advantage they would not give up. CU pushed on the rest of the frame en route to a 25-19 victory.
The fourth set remained close through 18 volleys, resulting in a nine-all tie. Concordia then took the following two points to force a BYU-Hawaii timeout, but the Bears came out of the break and gained a 15-9 lead. The momentum stayed on Concordia’s half of the court and Starkey’s squad punched a ticket to its sixth consecutive NCAA Championship match with a 25-14 win.
The Golden Bears were led by Koenecke, who recorded a career-high 23 kills on 35 attempts with only one error for a .629 attack percentage. She also had 15 digs for her team-leading 12th double-double of the season.
“Hats off to our serve receivers,” Koenecke said. “They did a great job so Amanda was able to reverse the flow and get me a ton of one-on-one’s as well as our other hitters, too. And even out of system, I just remembered to hit high and hard and that seemed to work in my favor tonight.”
Three other Bears registered double figure kills – Ellie Duffy (16), Cassie Haag (14) and Ashley Murtha (12). Murtha posted a double-double by adding 13 digs.
Setter Amanda Konetchy distributed 57 assists, leading to a .401 team attack rate (70-11-147). She was the third Golden Bear to post a double-double with 13 digs.