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Published November 13 2010

Cobbers swept by Whitworth in national volleyball tourney; Photo gallery captures the action

ST. PAUL – Maybe it was a coincidence or perhaps the person working the public address system knew what he was were doing.

Right when Concordia volleyball player Katie Vohnoutka was talking about the future, the Beach Boys song “Good Vibrations” played, bringing a smile to her face. Concordia might have been swept

27-25, 26-24, 25-20 by Whitworth in the first round of the central regional in the NCAA Division III volleyball championships at Schoenecker Arena at St. Thomas University.

“No, that is not a stretch,” Vohnoutka said about the ’60s tune in relation to her team. “I do feel really excited about next year.”

There are plenty of things for her to be excited about for next season, including what to do in the first round next season if Concordia makes it there.

Being able to make a comeback is one of them with the Cobbers (24-7) rallying in the first two sets, tying the set at 25-25 before the Pirates (17-6) won by two points.

Holding onto a lead is another thing the Cobbers will look to improve on heading into next season. There were a few times where the Cobbers built some three- and four-point leads, only to have the junior-heavy Pirates rely on experience.

“When you have a young team, you have to narrow down the scope of things they can control,” said Cobbers coach Tim Mosser. “That comeback we had in the second set was good and if we comeback, I think we have a match.”

And then, yes, experience is the other thing Concordia will take out of all this.

Mosser and Vohnoutka both said Concordia had a game plan that it followed. The problem was the junior-heavy Pirates also had a game plan that’s been utilized a bit more.

Whitworth’s versatile front line was proof as it was able to get blocks, beat Concordia at the net for tips while knowing where to put the ball on kills.

“They were the kind of team that had options,” said Vohnoutka, who finished with five kills and 18 digs. “We thought they were going to be the kind of team that only hit down the middle, but they were able to hit from the outside too.”

But once again, there are plenty of good things Concordia can take from this experience.

This is a team with nine freshmen and no seniors that made it to the postseason, a place Concordia is quite familiar with. Two years ago this was a program in the Sweet 16. Last season wasn’t as sweet, having missed the postseason for the first time since 2003.

A postseason performance might have been a surprise and rightfully so given Concordia’s youth. Somehow, it worked.

The Cobbers were able to put things together and set a foundation for next season. It could also set a foundation for the Cobbers making the postseason a perennial event once again.

“We got to control to control what we control and I think at times we were a little scared,” said Mosser, who’s coached the team for 17 seasons. “What we take from this is that no matter who you are playing, you have to come out confident and aggressive. You have to compete. I think that is what we take away from this.”

WHITWORTH (kills-blocks-aces): Grumbach 10-1-1, Gale 0-0-0, Rocha 8-0-0, Riddle 4-0-0 (17 digs, 36 assists), K. Rocha 16-2-1 (18 digs), Stephens 1-1-1, Hoffnagle 1-0-0 (14 digs), DeLong 7-0-1, Santos 0-0-0.

CONCORDIA: Green 15-1-0, Loomis 0-0-0 (13 digs), Vohnoutka 5-0-0 (18 digs), Hampton 1-0-0, Post 0-0-0 , Sykora 1-0-0 (23 assists, 9 digs), Tastad 2-0-0, Wiinanen 2-1-0 (13 digs), Christensen 0-0-0, Beseman 5-0-0, Bruggeman 7-1-0.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan S. Clark at (701) 241-5548