ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
The Tabor volleyball team got back into action in earnest last week with four matches, including three conference battles.
Kansas Wesleyan-Tabor exacted a measure of revenge on Kansas Wesleyan Monday night in Hillsboro by scores of 30-25, 30-20, 30-24.
The teams began the night in a three-way tie with Friends atop the KCAC.
“Kansas Wesleyan took advantage of us when we were down there, and we didn’t play our game,” coach Amy Ratzlaff said of their earlier loss in Salina. “I told the women the best thing about tonight is that we started and ended the match with the same intensity all the way through.
“That’s the first time all year we’ve done that, and that’s going to be important to us the rest of the year.”
Ratzlaff said her team has been focusing on maintaining their intensity the last week or two in practice.
“The women just made up their minds they no longer want to play the way they’ve been playing, at least I hope that’s the case,” Ratzlaff said. “Every coach knows their team will go through a lapse at some point in the season, and the fact is, we came through ours and we’re still in first place in the conference.
“Hopefully, we can regain anything we want to regain for the rest of the season,” she added. “This match was a big win for us.”
With the win, the Bluejays improved to 14-12 overall, and 11-3 in the KCAC
Bellevue-Tabor took a break from KCAC action Saturday when they hosted Bellevue University from Nebraska. Unfortunately, the Bluejays dropped the three-set match, 25-30, 27-30, 26-30.
“They are a very good team and it was good competition,” Ratzlaff said. “Fundamentally, they do things right and hit the ball well.
“In our first game, we played some of our very best volleyball of the year,” she added. “We played with more passion, enthusiasm, and we just played faster defense, which were priorities for us that we finally achieved.”
Angela Kroeker led Tabor with 12 kills in 50 attempts, while Staci Whitcomb added 11 kills out of a team total of 44 kills. Sara McAllister added 39 assists.
Defensively, Whitcomb managed 20 digs in the match.
“We mixed up our offense better than we have been, but overall we played much better defensively than we have been,” Ratzlaff said. “This was a better volleyball match than I’d say we’ve played against any of our conference schools.
“We actually played up to our competition,” she said. “We proved to ourselves we can play to a different level.”
Tabor finished with 82 digs, led by McAllister (14), Angela Kroeker (13), and Carmen Hein (12) .
Rachelle Regier blocked five shots and Shannon Kroeker added four blocks to propel Tabor to 16 blocks as a team.
“It’s a relief for a coach to see what I’ve believed all along they could do, and to actually see them do it,” Ratzlaff said. “I think that’s something that will be huge going into our last conference matches.
“I think the women expect more of themselves right now.”
Southwestern-The Bluejays edged past Southwestern Thursday, 30-28, 30-21, 30-23.
“We knew that would be a tough match, and our first game was a little shaky,” Ratzlaff said. “Southwestern has won some games at home that have been upsets, so we knew they were capable if we didn’t take care of business.
“After starting out slow, we picked it up, which was nice to see because lately when we start slow, we play the whole match slow,” she added. “To be able to get back to a higher level if we aren’t there to begin with, was a nice lesson for us to learn about ourselves.”
Angela Kroeker led the Bluejays with 11 kills while Staci Whitcomb added eight of the team’s 39 kills.
“We spread out our offense a little bit better in this match,” Ratzlaff said. “You look at middles and right sides and they had a decent amount of our kills.”
Kroeker also led in serving, attempting 21 and recording two aces.
Whitcomb was the Bluejay leader in digs with 14 of the team’s 57; the freshman also led Tabor with five of the team’s 14 blocks.
“We blocked much better in this match,” Ratzlaff said. “We played solid in the second and third games, but it still wasn’t quite where we want to be.”
Bethany-The Bluejays began the week by taking an easy three-game match Oct. 21 from Bethany, 30-24, 30-16, 30-16.
“We came out a little slow, but it wasn’t anything we couldn’t fix,” coach Amy Ratzlaff said.
Staci Whitcomb led Tabor with 11 kills in 26 attempts, while outside hitter Angela Kroeker recorded nine kills in 27 attempts for the Bluejays.
As a team, Tabor had 41 kills.
Defensive specialist Johanna Love led Tabor with 16 digs. Rachelle Regier set seven blocks, four of which were solo, and Laura Campbell added five blocks out of a team total of 21.
“We blocked better as a team,” Ratzlaff said. “Their offense was a little easier to read, so that made it easier to get back into blocking the way we should be.”
Sara McAllister once again led the Bluejays with 32 assists.
Tabor was credited with eight service aces in the match, with McAllister, Kroeker and Jill Hein each serving two.
“We played as good as we needed to in order to win the match,” Ratzlaff said.