BIG RAPIDS, Mich. – Concordia-St. Paul head coach Brady Starkey claimed his 500th career win at Concordia as the top-ranked Golden Bears (1-0) defeated Hillsdale College (0-1) in four sets (25-23, 27-25, 19-25, 25-20) in the season opener on the campus of Ferris State on Thursday night.
Starkey, NCAA's all-time leader in winning percentage (.911) picked up his 500th victory in just his 549th match at the helm for the Golden Bears. In addition, the Golden Bears moved to 14-2 all-time in their 16 season openers under the three-time AVCA Coach of the Year and 3-0 against the Chargers in the all-time series. Starkey has registered 30-win seasons in all but two of his previous 15 years.
VB: With tonight's win, @CSPBearsVB head coach Brady Starkey reaches 500 wins in his career! Starkey is the NCAA leader in winning percentage at .911 (500-49). Way to #BeGolden! #WeAreCSP #NSICVB pic.twitter.com/0707GUCwoT— Concordia St. Paul (@CSPBears) August 23, 2018
The Golden Bear offense put up staggering numbers in the kills category as they had at least 16 kills in all four matches while compiling 19 or more in three of the four. CSP managed to hit .312 or better in all three sets they won to bring their match total to .310 on their 171 swings.
Elizabeth Mohr played a big role in the success of the offense as she finished one assist shy of the program record in a four set match as she assisted on 70 of the team's 74 kills in the win. The total shattered her previous career high of 66 set back on Nov. 3, 2017 against Northern State in a five-setter. With her 62nd assist of the night, Mohr became the fifth player in DII history to reach 2,000 career assists. The senior also contributed seven digs.
Brooklyn Lewis picked up where she left off last season as she reached the 20+ kill plateau for the sixth time in her career. Lewis paced all players with an efficient 20 kills on 34 swings to put up a .412 hitting percentage in the match.
Sydney Book joined Mohr in hitting a career high as she followed close behind Lewis with 18 kills. Book also connected at a high clip as she hit .389 in the win. Hope Schiller and Erin Fallert also filled the stat sheet as they both put up double-doubles on the day. Schiller finished with 14 kills and 16 digs to go along with three service aces while Fallert put up 11 kills and 17 digs for her first career double-double. Fallert's 11 kills were a career-best while the 17 digs fell one shy of her career high as well.
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Not to be outdone, Tori Hanson added yet another career night as she tallied a career-high 25 digs to lead all players in the match. Hanson reached 20+ digs eight times in her freshman campaign with a season-best of 24 against Lewis on Sept. 8.
Taylor Soine gave CSP four players in double figures in digs with 12 while Sara Macek gave CSP five players in double figures in kills with 10.
The Chargers put up similarly efficient numbers offensively with a .302 hitting percentage, but they managed 16 fewer kills as a team with 58.
Linsay Mertz guided the offense with 50 assists and 11 digs while Paige VanderWall was the main beneficiary with 18 kills and 12 digs for a double-double of her own. Allyssa Van Wienen added 15 kills while Taylor Wiese led the way with 22 digs.
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The Golden Bears got off to a quick start with an early 6-1 run to take a 7-2 lead and force a Hillsdale timeout. The Chargers slowed the momentum and cut it back to three before three straight gave CSP their largest lead of the set at 13-7. Concordia maintained a five-point lead at 18-13 before HC stormed back with a 9-4 run to even up the score at 22-22 as CSP used a timeout of their own. The two teams traded the next two points before back-to-back points gave the Golden Bears a 25-23 set win in the opening set.
Neither team was able to gain much of a lead in the second set as there were 10 ties through the first 22 points to bring it the score to 11-11. There were four more throughout the middle of the set up to the 17-17 mark before Hillsdale took three in a row to pull ahead 20-17. Concordia took five of the next seven to even it back up at 22-22. The Chargers forced the first set point at 24-23, but the Golden Bears recovered to scored four of the final five points of the set to take it 27-25 to build a 2-0 lead in the match.
The third set began much in the same way as the second with five early ties to bring the score to 7-7. From there, Hillsdale quickly took charge with a 7-1 run to take a 14-8 lead. The edge remained at five at 18-13 before the Golden Bears battled back to within three on several occasions. With the lead at three at 22-19, the Chargers grabbed three straight points to force a fourth set with a 25-19 win in the third.
Concordia jumped ahead in the fourth with three of the first four and five of the first seven points before a 6-2 burst gave HC an 8-7 lead. The two teams went back and forth from there until CSP scored four points in a row to pull ahead 14-10. The Chargers chipped away to cut the gap to one at 18-17, but three in a row for the Golden Bears pushed their advantage back to four. CSP cruised from there as they took the set 25-20 to close out the match.
The Golden Bears return to action tomorrow with two matches as they take on Wayne State (Mich.) at 1 p.m. and #21 Ferris State at 5 p.m. Live stats and live video will be available in the nightcap against the Bulldogs.