Written by Andrew Ottoson Wednesday, 22 August 2007 07:51
For the second time in as many years, the Tabor College volleyball program was picked first in the conference’s pre-season polls.
“We are usually a few points behind first place in the polls,” coach Amy Ratzlaff said. “I don't place much weight on that poll.”
Finishing first in the standings with a 15-3 conference record in 2006, her fellow coaches put the Bluejays in the top spot in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference preseason poll.
Tabor began a run of consecutive conference titles in 2000 and has finish first each of the last six years.
“I have been blessed to work with some amazing women who have worked tirelessly for a common goal,” Ratzlaff said.
“We play hard to honor the gifts that God has given us, and we play to glorify Him in all that we do,” she continued.
“God has given us many blessings, and winning has certainly been a fun reward for pursuing our gifts.”
With five of the 2006 starters having graduated and a group of ten raw recruits inbound, Ratzlaff’s assistant coaches will be as valuable to her as ever.
In her seventh year with the team, Keli Chisholm has been with the team for the entire championship run.
“She is gifted in absolutely all areas which I am not,” Ratzlaff said. “And that's a lot of areas!”
Johannah Hein is overseeing the JV program for the second year.
“She played for me for four years, so she is very aware of what I expect from the players and does a tremendous job instilling that into them,” Ratzlaff said.
Though appreciative of the high ranking, Ratzlaff recognizes that the team has considerable work to do to live up to the expectations that accompany perennially dwelling at the top of the KCAC standings.
“My job is to not give (the players) any time to sit around and think about what they could be afraid of,” Ratzlaff said.
“We should be too busy to really have time to worry about all that stuff, or too tired to notice,” she added.
When the athletes arrive on campus on Aug. 22, Ratzlaff and assistant coaches Chisholm and Hein will have plenty for them to do.
“Our goal for the year is to play to our potential and give 100 percent every chance we get,” Ratzlaff said.
“A championship is obviously a desire, but we have way too many goals to focus on before we can even look at that,” she continued.
“My concern lies in getting all of the players going in the right direction at the right time, and we have a lot of team building and team development to do before I know where we will stand this year,” she added.
The recent run of success has put the Bluejays out in front of their competition from the outset in 2007, and Ratzlaff is aware of the pressures success brings.
“We try to find ways to keep the good pressure that makes you perform at a level that is above normal, but get rid of the anxiety that makes you choke,” she said.
“No team wants to be the team that did not live up to expectations, and I have always told the women that if they don't want to feel pressure, don't play volleyball at Tabor.”
2007 KCAC Preseason Polls
Volleyball Coaches Poll
|1. Tabor (6)
| 2. Bethel (3)
| 3. Friends
|5. Kansas Wesleyan||45|
| 6. Ottowa
|7. Bethany (1)
|8. Saint Mary||35|