It had been almost two weeks since th No. 2-ranked Concordia Eagles had faced a ranked opponent, and No. 8 The Master's came in with their highest ranking since the NAIA started tracking polls in 2000. The Mustangs came ready to battle, taking the first set, but CU responded, getting stronger as the match went on for a 3-1 victory inside Concordia Arena on Thursday night, October 4.
Brooke Marino led CU with 16 kills fresh off breaking the Concordia all-time mark of 1406 last Saturday. She added 12 digs, four aces, and three blocks. Madison Ekis had 14 winners and Jessica Israel added nine. The story for Concordia was on the front line, as they out-blocked TMC 10.5-3. CU middles Reanna Schelhaas and Le Mi had three and six blocks, respectively. Mi added eight kills, while hitting .533 in 15 swings. Schelhaas had four kills hitting .300. Setter Elizabeth Younglove was huge with 32 assists, 11 digs, and three aces. CU hit .252 on the match, compared to .069 for TMC.
The Master's jumped to a 10-7 lead in the first set and took control early. CU trailed 14-10 before rallying with five straight points led by two blocks and a Mindy Knight ace. The teams traded points to 22 before The Master's Sam Dougherty nailed two straight aces to lead to the 25-23 win. TMC hit .231 in the set, while Concordia hit .154.
Concordia saw some scary moments in the second game, not wanting to fall down 2-0. The Master's led early 11-9 capped by a kill from Ashley Newton. It was apparent Concordia was starting to play better, but The Master's was going nowhere. The turning point came at 13-13, when two blocks and a Marino kill gave CU the 16-13 lead. A Marino ace and Ekis kill made it 21-15 CU, and they played sideout volleyball from there for the 25-19 win. CU hit .220 in the game, with TMC at .000.
The Eagles kicked it into high gear in the final two stanzas. CU jumped out 13-6 in the third game paced by five Marino kills. A kill by Israel and Mi made it 17-7 CU. They spread it to 23-9 on two CU blocks and multiple TMC mistakes. CU won 25-10 and hit .333 on the set. TMC hit a low .-080 in the game.
"Our blocking and serving was not very good in the first set," CU middle blocker Le Mi said. "We pushed hard and improved in both to pick it up as the game went on."
The final game was more of the same for CU as they took an early 11-7 lead on a sneaky set-kill by Younglove. Kills by Marino and Israel made it 17-12 CU and two Schelhaas winners saw it go to 20-12. Three kills by Ekis saw Concordia finish in a flurry and win 25-15. CU hit .343 in the final set, while TMC was down at .062.
"We came out slow, but were able to settle into a groove," head coach Dan Fisher said. "I am happy with the result, wish we would have figured it out a little sooner, but happy to get out with a win."
The No. 2 Eagles improved to a still-perfect 19-0 and 6-0 in conference, continuing to build on the best start in school history and remain one of three unbeatens in the NAIA. The Master's fell to 18-3 and 4-2 in the GSAC.