Written by Katie Morford Tuesday, 30 August 2011 16:37
Tabor College volleyball coach Amy Ratzlaff returns for her 12th season intent on leading her team to a Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference title.
The Bluejays, who benefit from the experience of nine seniors, added nine freshmen to this year’s squad. The team was ranked second in the KCAC coaches’ preseason poll behind last year’s champion, Friends University.
The Bluejays lost in the KCAC semifinals last season, finishing with a 16-15 overall record and a 12-6 mark in the conference.
Tabor started their season Aug. 26 at Oklahoma City, losing to Oklahoma City University and defeating College of the Ozarks. The Bluejays will begin conference play Sept. 7 at Ottawa.
“Preseason polls can be a good starting point for the season,” said Ratzlaff. “We have work to do to be second in the conference. It’s always good to have something better to aim for.
“With 13 new players this year, our first few weeks of skill and team development will be crucial to our potential success.”
In addition to the nine freshmen, the squad welcomed Wichita State transfer Katie Vogts, Jessica Wollenberg, Abbey Burns from Friends University and Amy Jo Maphet.
“Transfer players add depth to our lineup,” Ratzlaff said.
Wollenberg, at 6-feet, 1-inch, will bring size and strength to the Bluejays.
“She will add a tremendous amount of power to the lineup,” Ratzlaff said.
Maphet will be key for the defense, having proven athletic ability and learning quickly.
Vogts will not start for the Bluejays due to a knee injury, but Ratzlaff expects her to be cleared to play in the second round of KCAC play starting in mid-October.
“This team is an exciting mix of seasoned returners ready to lead a team through the season, but also 13 new players who will bring depth and excitement to the program,” Ratzlaff said.
“This has got to be one of the most talented freshman classes I’ve seen.”
Ratzlaff said it was intentional to have an equal number of seniors and freshmen on the squad.
“If you wait for seniors to graduate, new players coming in will not appreciate the tradition of Tabor volleyball,” she said. “We don’t want to lose what Tabor volleyball is all about. This way the tradition continues.”
Returning for the Bluejays are sophomore Hollister Wolf, senior Mandi Phillips, sophomore Jessie Vogts, senior Tina Frick, senior Jessica Dixon, senior Cortney Janzen and senior Corissa Bartel.
Frick was a unanimous KCAC first-team selection, Phillips was named to the second team, Vogts was last year’s freshman of the year, and Bartel received honorable mention.
“This squad benefits from (the seniors’) leadership,” Ratzlaff said.
“We have seniors who know what Tabor volleyball is all about and have high expectations. They have done a good job training the others.”
Ratzlaff said the seniors provide a base for the rest of the squad and are team-oriented.
“Our team chemistry will certainly be a highlight of the season and I believe they’ll be fiercely competitive,” she said.
The Bluejays will need team chemistry to knock off defending champion Friends, but Ratzlaff seems confident her players are up to the task.
“Our eye is on first place,” she said. “Certainly we have a lot to do, but I don’t think any of us will be satisfied with less than first place.
“We’re going to do our part to be ready.”