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Eric Peterson, Published September 19 2012

Cobbers power past Bethel in MIAC volleyball home opener

MOORHEAD – Many of the names are new or less familiar, but the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference volleyball results are looking the same for Concordia.

The Cobbers got 20 kills from freshman outside hitter Olivia Wangensteen to help spark a 25-17, 25-10,

20-25, 25-14 victory against Bethel on Wednesday at Memorial Auditorium.

Concordia (4-6, 2-0 MIAC) remained undefeated in the conference and has won its past two matches.

Wednesday’s match was the MIAC home opener for the Cobbers, who graduated four starters off last year’s conference championship team. Three of those players were All-Americans. Two of them, Jenna Green and Katie Vohnoutka, finished their careers with more than 1,000 kills.

“I’m so impressed with our young kids, our freshmen and our sophomores,” said Cobbers head coach Tim Mosser. “They have gotten tons better than they were at the beginning of the year. This team is maturing quickly.”

Concordia had its growing pains during a challenging nonconference schedule. Four of the team’s six losses came against teams ranked in the NCAA Division III Top 25, including No. 1-ranked Washington (Mo.) University.

“We decided to let’s just jump right on in,” said Mosser, whose team starts one freshman, two sophomores, two juniors and one senior.

Senior Rachel Wiinanen is the team’s libero.

That tough early schedule has paid dividends for Concordia as it transitioned into MIAC play. The Cobbers earned a 3-0 win a last week at Hamline, which was undefeated at the time. They followed that up with Wednesday’s home win against Bethel. The Cobbers had stretches of dominance against the Royals.

“We got big plays and I think we all got big plays and it wasn’t just one person doing everything,” said Wiinanen, who had 14 digs.

Sophomore outside hitter Kynndyl Ross joined Wangensteen in double-digit kills. Ross had 11. Junior outside hitter Angie Waller, who transferred from Minnesota State Moorhead, added six kills and a match-high 18 digs. Sophomore Kelly Reed had five kills and seven blocks.

“I really think that we can be one of the top three teams in the MIAC,” Mosser said. “We have the ability to do that, it’s just a matter of being consistent.”

Mosser was most impressed with how his team responded to its inconsistent play against the Royals. After cruising to victories in the first two sets, Concordia dropped a 25-20 decision in the third set.

Bethel also scored the first four points in the fourth set and appeared to have all the momentum on its side. The Cobbers answered with a 12-1 run. Concordia took a 12-5 lead in the fourth set after a Bethel error and the Cobbers cruised from that point.

“I was impressed with how we came back in the fourth set and really dominated again,” Mosser said.

BETHEL (kills-blocks-aces): Bloom 1-0-3 (30 assists), Helle 15-0-0, Baumetz 10-1-0, Ackatz 3-2-0, Indlecoffer 0-1-0, Deberry 3-1-0, Smith 0-0-0 (12 digs), Rundquist 0-0-2, Johnson 1-0-1, Grow 1-0-0, Assam 1-0-1, Lauwers 0-0-0, McKown 1-1-0, Bernstetter 0-0-0.

CONCORDIA: Loomis 1-0-3 (26 assists), Hampton 2-1-1, Wangensteen 20-2-1, Reed 5-7-0, Ross 11-3-0, Waller 6-0-2 (18 digs), Bommersbach 0-0-0 (11 assists), Schmidt 0-0-0, Lippert 0-0-0, Selisker 0-0-0, Beaner 0-0-0, Wiinanen 0-0-0 (14 digs), Strand 0-0-0, Kringen 0-0-0, Skow-Anderson 2-3-0, Bruggeman 1-0-0.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com