When the Concordia (St. Paul) volleyball team lost to Minnesota Duluth on Nov. 24 in the NSIC tournament championship match, it was the second consecutive year the Golden Bears had lost in the conference tournament.
After the loss in 2012, the Golden Bears regrouped and went on to win their sixth consecutive NCAA Division II championship.
After last month’s loss to UMD — the Golden Bears’ second to the Bulldogs in an eight-day span — Concordia rebounded to win three matches and claim the Central Regional title. In the championship match, the Golden Bears defeated the host Bulldogs 3-1 to extend their postseason winning streak to 39 matches.
Concordia (32-3) will open its bid for another national title Thursday against the University of Tampa (32-1) in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Senior hitter Kayla Koenecke, a first-team All-America the past two years, said the Golden Bears didn’t panic after the two late-season losses.
“We didn’t change too many things,” Koenecke said during a webcast on the NSIC website Tuesday. “We just set up a new mind-set, that it was a new season. In the tournament, it doesn’t matter what happened during the regular season. It’s a clean slate. We just decided to go after it and enjoy ourselves.”
Golden Bears coach Brady Starkey said in a podcast on the Golden Bears’ website that the Golden Bears will need the same mind-set Thursday.
“We need to focus on our side of the net,” Starkey said. “We need to come out fired up like we did last weekend.”
The Golden Bears defeated Tampa 3-2 in the championship match last year. The winner of Thursday’s match will play either Wingate or Wheeling Jesuit in the semifinals Friday.