Bluejay volleyball takes sole possession of KCAC lead

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
The Tabor College volleyball team swept two important matches last week to retain their position atop the KCAC.

Friends-The Bluejays butted heads with co-leader Friends in Hillsboro Saturday for sole possession of the KCAC lead. Tabor won the match, 32-30. 30-19, 30-21.

“In the first game, we trailed by four points both early and late in that game,” coach Amy Ratzlaff said. “For us to battle that hard against a tough team like Friends was a real confidence builder.

“Knowing we could make up that point differential that late in the game was huge,” she added. “Friends tends to get on a roll and when we came back on them, it definitely had to be frustrating for them.”

After struggling to an extended-score victory in Game 1, Tabor grabbed control of Game 2 with a 19-7 lead and was never threatened.

Rachelle Regier led the Bluejays with five blocked shots, four of which were assists.

“Rachelle was amazing with her blocking this week,” Ratzlaff said. “That was probably one of her best games blocking is the season, and then she made herself available for offense, too.

“She was all over the place and she’s really starting to find her game feet, but she’s played this way in practice for a long time,” she added. “That’s always great to see in a senior who’s worked as hard as she has.”

Senior outside hitter Angela Kroeker led the Bluejays with 13 kills, while sister Shannon Kroeker, a sophomore middle blocker, added 12 kills.

“Both Angela and Shannon played well in this match,” Ratzlaff said. “Shannon is finding her game. We had several games where we didn’t get her set right.

“Hopefully, this match will get her going,” she added. “She’s a huge part of who we are from that back side and we really need her down the stretch.”

Sara McAllister attempted 105 sets in the match, and was credited with 43.

“Our offense started to run more smoothly because our defense was doing their job,” Ratzlaff said. “We spent a lot of time preparing for Friends and when they got frustrated, they started doing things they were used to doing, and that’s what we were prepared for.”

Staci Whitcomb continued her late-season charge, leading Tabor with 19 digs, while Jill Hein added 13.

McAllister and Whitcomb led the team in serving with two aces each.

“I think we played better this week than we have been,” Ratzlaff said. “We’re starting to pull things together the way we need to.

“It always feels good to beat someone you’re tied with,” she said. “Right now, if we can keep people healthy, I think we’re playing better at the end of this year than we have the the past years.”

With the win, Tabor grabbed control of the KCAC race with a 13-3 conference record.

Ottawa- The Bluejays came home from Ottawa Thursday with a four-game victory, 20-30, 30-28, 30-26, 30-27.

“I just think it goes back to making up their minds that they’re going to start doing what they need to do to win,”Ratzlaff said. “The second game, I was very pleased with the fact that we came off the opening loss and decided to dominate things.”

Freshman outside hitter Staci Whitcomb led the Bluejays in kills with 22 while senior middle hitter Laura Campbell added 15.

“Staci and Laura did a great job of terminating the ball that game,” Ratzlaff said.

Sara McAllister attempted 155 sets and was credited with 59.

Rachelle Regier, senior middle blocker, was credited with eight blocks in the match, including two solo blocks and six assists.

Whitcomb also added four blocks in the match.

Angela Kroeker (22), Whitcomb (20), McAllister (17) and Jill Hein (15) led the Bluejays in digs.

“Everything was just slow coming out of the gates, but our offense ran better, our passing was better, and our defense was better in the last three games,” Ratzlaff said. “Just that turn around from the first game was a positive to take from that match.

“We knew Ottawa wasn’t someone to look past and we knew we needed that match.”

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