Concordia-St. Paul nets straight set victory to keep it moving in tourney
DULUTH, Minn. -- Six-time defending national champion third-seed and third-ranked Concordia-St. Paul won its semifinal match in the NCAA Central Region tournament on Friday night to extend its NCAA tournament winning streak to 38 matches with a straight set victory against second-seed and fifth-ranked Central Missouri. The Golden Bears won by scores of 25-20, 25-20 and 25-12 to improve to 31-3, while the Jennies end their season at 33-2.
Concordia has won 38-consecutive matches in NCAA tournament play, last losing in the regional title match in 2006 to Minnesota Duluth. Concordia holds a 48-4 all-time record in the NCAA tournament and is 11-0 in regional semifinal matches. Concordia is 28-2 in regional tournament play including an 8-2 record in the region title match.
The Golden Bears were firing on all cylinders as they committed only six errors and managed a .436 hiting percentage as team in the match. They were also remarkably consistent, hitting over .400 in each of the three sets. Concordia also turned up the heat defensively, holding the Jennies to just .171 hitting.
Erienne Lauersdorf had a match-high 15 kills to go along with six digs as she hit an even .500 on the day.
Kayla Koenecke continued to roll with her 21st double-double on the season, picking up 14 kills and 11 digs.
Amanda Konetchy was on point all day with her passing, setting 44 of the Golden Bears' 50 kills while also contributing 10 digs to finish with a double-double of her own.
Riley Hanson provided a spark from the middle by hitting .769 en route to 10 kills while also putting up four blocks.
Taylor Dordan was a big part of the solid defensive effort by picking up a 13 digs and consistently keeping the ball alive at crucial points in the match.
No player for Central Missouri had more than nine kills as Carly Sojka, Haley Thompson and Taylor Goodness had nine, eight and eight kills, respectively.
Setter Julia Bates put up a diverse stat line with 23 assists, five digs and five kills for the Jennies.
CU set the tone in the first set by building an 11-2 lead right away in the first set, forcing UCM to use both of their timeouts early. The Golden Bears maintained a solid advantage of six or more went into set point with a 24-15 lead. The Jennies refused to go away as they scored five in a row leading to a Concordia timeout. UCM came out of the timeout and committed a service error to give CU a 1-0 advantage in the match and 25-20 win in the set.
Lauersdorf was active with seven kills and Konetchy put up 19 assists on Concordia's 20 kills to lead the Golden Bears in the first set.
Carly Sojka put up a team-high five kills for Central Missouri in the set.
The Jennies showed some fight to begin the second set, scoring the first three points. They maintained a slight advantage up until an 11-8 lead before Concordia stormed back with four consecutive points to take the lead. UCM scored the next two to take the lead but were unable to hold it for long as CU took it right back two points later. The Golden Bears held off the Jennies and turned a 22-20 into a 25-20 set win to head into the third set up 2-0.
Koenecke paced Concordia in the set with five kills and four digs.
Setter Julia Bates had three of her five kills as well as eight assists in the second set.
Concordia continued the onslaught in the third set by scoring six of the first eight points to force a timeout for UCM. The timeout did little to slow down CU as they used a 9-1 run to turn a 7-4 lead into a 16-5 lead as Central Missouri used their second timeout. The lead was soon extended to 13 at 20-7 and the Golden Bears rolled to a sweep with a 25-12 win in the third.