Bluejay volleyball team earns split in KCAC action

The Tabor College volleyball team dropped a four-game match in Ottawa on Thursday, 32-34, 27-30, 30-28, 27-30.

“Ottawa played a good match, but we never really found our game,” coach Amy Ratzlaff said. “We would try to fight our way through it, but it never really came together for us.

“It wasn’t a lack of desire-it just seemed like everything we did was a little bit off.”

Ratzlaff said numerous hitting errors, unusual for the Bluejay women, contributed to the loss.

On the positive side, Shannon Kroeker’s play was a highlight.

“She hit really well and was about the only player that had a good night,” Ratzlaff said.

Kroeker attempted 22 attacks and converted 10. Also contributing were Erin Loewen (16-42), Lindsey Vogts (10-21) and Staci Whitcomb (9-41), who also had eight kills.

Tabor converted 95 of 104 serves successfully with Jill Hein picking up four aces. Anne Gunden attempted 147 sets, which led to 45 assists.

On defense, Whitcomb contributed 12 digs while Traci Neufeld (11), Hein (11) and Gunden (10) also stepped up.

“We got down 0-2 and being down like that on the road makes it tough,” Ratzlaff said. “The women know they need to learn, go on and get better next time.

“We had an off night and if that had to happen now so we get ourselves in gear, so be it.”

With its first conference loss, Tabor falls to 2-1 in the KCAC and 4-9 overall. Tabor will return to action Thursday and Saturday when they play host to Friends and Central Christian College of McPherson, respectively.

“This loss is a very vivid reminder that we need to keep making our skills better,” she added. “Hopefully, we learn from this and we become even more passionate about winning.”

Kansas Wesleyan-Tabor took another step toward a fourth consecutive conference championship by defeating Kansas Wesleyan Tuesday, Sept. 14, 30-25, 24-30, 30-18, 30-16.

In the process, the Bluejays snapped the Coyotes’ 16-game home-court winning streak against Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference teams.

“Salina seems like a very tough place to play, but I think we realize it’s not that bad,” coach Amy Ratzlaff said. “It’s just that KW is always the first game that’s a lot different than the tournament teams we get used to playing to begin the season.

“I think that switch makes a real difference and we were more prepared this year.”

Leading the way for Tabor offensively were Staci Whitcomb and Shannon Kroeker. Whitcomb recorded 15 kills in 45 attempts while Kroeker had 27 chances and converted 11 of those into kills.

“Our hitting was really spread evenly, but Shannon and Staci had good nights,” Ratzlaff said. “It was pretty much of a group effort, though.”

Tabor committed just nine service errors in 108 attempts (94 percent). Traci Neufeld led the Jays with three aces. Anne Gunden record 48 assists in 131 set attempts.

Defensively, Tabor recorded 65 digs, with Jill Hein (13), Erin Loewen (12) and Johannah Love (10) all having double-digit nights.

Hein also led the team with four blocks.

“I thought we finally got our defense playing better-Jill and Jo really picked it up in the last two games and that made a huge difference,” Ratzlaff said “Our home gym is loud but KW’s gym makes all the sound disappear.

“It was hard for the women to communicate with each other,” she added. “Once we got going in the last two games, it was more fun and it’s a good sign that we could make that change mid-match. “We walked out of that match knowing we didn’t play sharply but that’s fine-we’ll take the win and try to do better next time,” Ratzlaff said.

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