Rebuilds usually take awhile; just look at Nebraska football.
But don’t tell that to the Concordia volleyball program. In a span of two seasons, head coach Ben Boldt and assistant Angie Boldt have taken a Bulldog program that was 9-19 in 2017 to the program’s second-ever NAIA national tournament appearance in 2019.
Concordia’s 2019 record stands at 23-6 with a ranking of 15th in the coaches' poll despite playing in the tough Great Plains Athletic Conference.
However, the recipe for success used by the husband-and-wife coaching team the past two seasons isn’t too complicated. They hold their players to four simple core values to establish the winning culture.
“We try to keep to our core values of love, trust, hard work and sacrifice. I think the level at which we do those things is going to let the results take care of themselves,” said Ben Boldt.
Before breaking out this season, the foundation for the team’s success was laid out a year ago in 2018, when the Boldts were able to establish and initiate their system and culture. Despite Concordia going only 15-12, it was a much-needed improvement from 9-19 the previous season.
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However, it was after a sweep by a conference opponent that Ben Boldt noticed his team and the program had officially bought in.
“We lost to the College of St. Mary 3-0 and we had one of those moments in the locker room where we had a choice of either mailing it in or really buckle down. We really have gotten better since that moment,” Boldt said.
They continued that momentum into 2019. A mix of impact freshmen and savvy veterans has resulted in one of the best seasons in Concordia volleyball history.
That's apparent in the contributions of senior Emma Noyd and freshman Camryn Ofper. Noyd, a 6-foot-2 senior, leads the team with 346 kills. Opfer, the GPAC freshman of the year, has 280.
After her senior season at Seward, Opfer was committed to Division II program Washburn. But after some doubt, Ben Boldt was able to come in and convince the outside hitter to play for her hometown program.
“She’s (Opfer) a go-with-the-flow person, and you can trust that she’s going to give you everything she’s got. It’s been great to have the seniors as an example for Camryn to step up and show what she’s going to have to become the next couple of years,” said Boldt.
The Bulldogs are seeking their first national tournament win at the Tyson Events Center in Sioux City, Iowa. They will take part in pool play Tuesday-Thursday against No. 3 Indiana Wesleyan, No. 19 Montana Tech and Saint Mary (Kansas).
“We’re going to have to play with our strengths,” Boldt said. “We’re going to put teams under pressure and we’re going to fight to keep our offense in system. Then I think when we do all the attacking and fun stuff, the rest takes care of itself.”