The fourth-seeded Tabor volleyball team ended its season in the KCAC semifinals Friday night as the Bluejays fell on the road to top-seeded Ottawa University.
The loss comes after the Bluejays earned a tough five-game win over No. 5 seed Sterling College at home in the quarterfinals.
“Those are memories that I just wouldn’t trade for the world,” said coach Amy Ratzlaff after the quarterfinal win.
“God is good. He has brought us through a lot this season. We have had so much heartbreak. It was a hard start to the year.
“And to see it come full circle and just giving it 110 percent is just a blessing.”
The Bluejays finish with an 12-6 conference record and were 18-10 overall, good for a fourth-place standing in the KCAC.
“I believe the team made so many gains in the second round,” Ratzlaff said, “and I believe we were still improving as the season came to an end.”
A young Tabor team is expected to return 17 of their 19 players on the roster, including junior outside hitter Jessie Vogts and freshman stand-out Katelin Horstick.
Players earning All-Conference honors included senior Katie Vogts, who received Player of the Year and All-KCAC First Team recognition; Hollister Wolf, with First Team honors; Jessie Vogts and Katelin Horstick, who were both named to the All-KCAC Second Team; and Amy Jo Maphet, who received Honorable Mention recognition. Senior Jessica Wollenberg received KCAC Champion of Character recognition.
Ottawa, semifinals—The No. 1-seeded Braves proved too much for Tabor to handle Friday night, as the Bluejays took to the road in the semi-final match of the KCAC tournament.
The double-hit of a tough Ottawa team and an off night for KCAC Player of the Year Katie Vogts resulted in a season-ending loss in three hard-fought games (25-21, 25-19, 25-16).
Vogts, who normally records double-digit kills, posted just four against Ottawa.
“The Ottawa game was a good battle,” said coach Amy Ratzlaff. “The team executed the game plan well – we just had more errors than we have been having.”
Despite a back-and-forth start to Set 1, Ottawa got the advantage down the stretch to take the game.
The Braves set the tone on the first point with a kill to the corner in the second game, and came back from a late Tabor lead to earn five consecutive points and the win.
Ottawa claimed a kill on the back line to take an 11-10 lead in the third set, then made five straight points for the victory.
The Braves went on to defeat Kansas Wesleyan University in the championship (3-0) and advance to the NAIA national tournament.
Jessie Vogts was the only Bluejay to make double digits with 13, helped out by senior Jessica Wollenberg with seven and Courtney Erwin with five. Hollister Wolf had 32 assists to help Tabor to 33 match kills.
Wolf and Whitney Maple recorded 12 digs each, with Wollenberg and Jessie Vogts added two total blocks a piece.
Sterling, quarterfinals—It took a tough team effort for No. 4 seed Tabor College to defeat the fifth-seeded Sterling College Warriors Tuesday night in five sets (25-21, 21-25, 25-23, 23-25, 15-13).
“Our crowd was unbelievable,” said coach Amy Ratzlaff. “We had our whole team fighting hard, we had our whole crowd fighting hard. It was just unbelievable.”
Tabor’s top honors for the match should go to outside hitter Jessie Vogts, who had a heck of a night on her home court to help her team advance to the KCAC semi-finals.
Vogts served an ace to give the Bluejays the first set win, then came out in a big way in the fifth and final game to rack up over half Tabor’s points, including the game- and match-winning kill.
“I thought Jessie Vogts at the end just made up her mind,” said Ratzlaff.
“Just feeling like you owned your last game at home – it’s a feeling you don’t get anywhere else in life, and it’s the most special thing.”
Tabor got in an early hole in the first set, but senior Jessica Wollenberg got a block and kill to tie it up, 8-8, before the Bluejays slipped away for a narrow lead.
Sterling tied it twice more mid-way through the game, but Tabor just barely pulled away at the end for the 25-21 win.
The situation was reversed in Game 2, as Tabor got off on an early run and Sterling tied it, 10-10, to spark a back-and-forth battle. The Warriors tied it, 17-17, then gained the advantage and got the spike at the net to win it, 25-21.
Freshman hitter Katelin Horstick played like someone much older, stepping up in the third set with five kills, a block and an ace to give Tabor a narrow lead over Sterling in a game that saw eight ties in the first 10 points. KCAC Player of the Year Katie Vogts slammed home the kill at the net to seal the deal, 25-23.
True to precedent, the Bluejays couldn’t pull it out in the fourth game. They trailed right off the bat with three unanswered points, before tying it, 6-6, and taking the lead. But Sterling went on a 4-0 run to tie it, 13-13, and after a net violation call came Sterling the lead, 19-18, the Warriors took it away for the narrow 25-23 win.
As with both previous matches this season, it took a hard-fought fifth set to decide the winner.
Tabor came out strong, as Jessie Vogts set the tone with a consecutive block and kill to give the Bluejays momentum. But back-to-back Tabor errors gave Sterling an 8-7 lead, as the teams switched sides of the court.
The Warriors now played in front of the student section, and the fans made it count as they cheered the Bluejays to a down-to-the-wire two-point win over Sterling College, 15-13, for the match win and semi-final berth.
Jessie and Katie Vogts both recorded 16 kills in the match, aided by Katelin Horstick with 11 and Jessica Wollenberg with seven.
Hollister Wolf had three kills, as well as putting up 55 assists to help Tabor to 59 match kills. Amy?Jo Maphet put up a huge defensive effort with 26 digs, with Katie Vogts and Whitney Maple adding 14 each. Wollenberg also had five solo blocks at the net, with Horstick and Jessie Vogts contributing four each and Katie Vogts chipping in three solo blocks.