FORT WAYNE — With a veteran team returning from last year’s run to the Class 3A state title match, Concordia knows what it has coming back in 2014 – but so do the Cadets’ opponents.
It’s that experience that puts the target squarely on Concordia’s collective backs, but it is also that seasoning that allows the Cadets to pull out close matches such as a 25-19, 25-23 win over Bishop Dwenger in the finals of the SAC tournament Saturday at North Side.
When the 3A No. 2 Cadets (4-0) are down, they know how to get it going.
“It’s a much better match than I anticipated,” Concordia coach Trish Miller said. “Everybody is going to play their best against us. That’s going to make us better. Our kids played great and came up with the big points when we needed them.”
Concordia lost to Indianapolis Brebeuf in three games in last year’s state title match and return five of six starters – including Glass Spike Award winner Tionna Williams, a senior.
“We have a deeper team this year,” Williams said. “Coming back with that (experience), we are definitely calmer and more relaxed and we know what to do to pull it out.
“We don’t want to go into a match just expecting to win. We want competition. It makes a match more enjoyable to watch and to play in. They definitely came out strong, but we have a target on our backs and everybody is going to come out on their A game.”
Concordia sits behind Northrop for the all-time SAC tournament titles with seven, including winning three of the last four years. The Bruins won eight straight from 1993-2000.
“It’s a new team, new dynamics and different players coming in; it’s never the same,” Miller said of this year’s team.
“We are running a faster tempo offense, and so we are going to make mistakes early. And that’s OK because we are trying to come out of our comfort zone. We want to raise the level we are playing.”
The Cadets beat the Saints in last year’s final, 31-29, 25-21.
“Against a great team like this, you have to attack them,” said Dwenger coach Tim Houser, a former Concordia assistant coach.
“When we attacked them, we went right toe-to-toe with them. That’s why you want to play the best, to be the best. It’s tough to lose. … But I am proud of them. I think we are going to be good and battle them (in the SAC regular season) just like last year.”
The Saints (3-2) jumped out to the lead in the first game, going up 6-1 and 11-7. The Cadets, though, finished on an 8-2 run.
The second game was close throughout, but the Cadets broke away from a 23-all tie with the final two points.
Williams led the Cadets with 12 kills and two blocks, and DeJour Young added five kills and nine digs. Erica Shively had 11 digs, and Grace Miller had nine digs.
Rachel Kammeyer chipped in with 14 assists, and Kara Bowersox had nine assists.
For Dwenger, Caroline Hipskind had five kills, Ellen Ross had two blocks and Abbie Grace Lee added 18 digs.