“We have won plenty of championships with three losses, and we will definitely have to take care of business to get that done,” coach Amy Ratzlaff said.
“It’s exciting—we’ll definitely be peaking at the right time, and we won’t go through that mid-season lull because we’ve already been there.
“Hopefully, we’ll continue to get better game by game, and by the end of the season be a completely different team than when we started,” she added.
Led by 10 kills from Taylor Lawrence, Tabor finished off nearly 32 percent of its attacks against the Moundbuilders. Jordan Crosson and Carly Kroeker each added six kills. Crosson added six blocks.
“I really feel like because we were a new team, it took us a while to get things situated, bugs worked out—and we still have bugs to work out,” Ratzlaff said. “But I feel like this week we started playing like a team.”
It also marked the first match of the season in which Tabor limited its attack errors to single digits, and consequently, also marked its highest kill percentage to date.
“A lot of the teams we played close with, I think, because we were making a lot of errors,” Ratzlaff said. “We’re working on cutting back on the unforced errors we’ve made. If we can keep doing that, the second round looks very promising for us.”
Tabor defeated Sterling (30-22, 30-20, 30-25) Oct. 2. Lawrence had 11 kills, followed by 10 from Heather Witham and eight from Ashley Cohlmia.
“Second round, you always want to think of things that can make you a better team than you were the first time through,” Ratzlaff said. “The fact that we’re starting to play like a team is going to make us look different the second round.”
Bethany (9-0) sits atop the standings after running the table in the first half.
“I think Bethany does a good job keeping the ball on the other side of the net,” Ratzlaff said. “But I think the first time we played them, we also scored half their points by our errors.”
At just over 14 percent, Tabor’s attack rating against the Swedes was the second-lowest mark in a conference game.
“They’re a good team, but I think if we cut down our errors it will be different the second time around,” she said. “They didn’t make a lot of errors, and I’m definitely interested to see how it goes the second time.”
Kansas Wesleyan (9-1) is also ahead of Ratzlaff’s squad.
“Our first meeting with them was the same thing (as Bethany),” she said. “We scored almost half their points on our errors.”
Tabor’s attack rating for that game was just shy of 15 percent.
“They’re also a strong offensive team, and we will need our blocking to be better the second time against them,” she added.
Those rematches, slated for Oct. 16 in Salina and Oct. 18 in Lindsborg, come only days before the second meeting with long-standing rival and perennial powerhouse Bethel.
The Bluejays are presently in a third-place tie with the Threshers (6-3), but Bethel holds the upper hand, having defeated Tabor in the first meeting between the preseason consensus favorites.
“We didn’t play well at all down there,” Ratzlaff said. “They’re gaining speed as well, so it will be a good match when we see them again.”
Tabor committed 22 errors against 32 kills in North Newton for a season-low rating of 8.3 percent.
“It will be fun to prepare for them and to face them at home—the home crowd always makes a big difference, and our home crowd has been great,” she said.
The rematch is slated for Oct. 22 in Hillsboro.
“There are some good teams out there, but we’re definitely going to give them a run for their money,” Ratzlaff said.
Coming—Before the make-or-break stretch against the conference leaders, Tabor faced McPherson Monday night in McPherson.
The Bluejays are slated to visit Friends (4-6) Thursday at 7 p.m. before heading to Salina on Tuesday.