Bethel College hands Bluejays first conference loss

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
The Tabor College volleyball team stepped out of conference play on Friday and Saturday for a trip to Bethany, Okla. The Bluejays returned with a 1-3 mark for the weekend.

“I told the women it’s almost like our mid-season lull has hit,” coach Amy Ratzlaff said. “I usually expect it the second week of October, but they snuck it up on me.”

In the opener, Tabor got its only win, defeating St. Gregory’s University, 30-12, 30-11, 30-23.

“The women came out determined and had a great time,” Ratzlaff said. “But we weren’t required to play that fast in this match.”

Staci Whitcomb led the Bluejay charge with 15 of the team’s 38 kills while Lindsey Vogts added nine. Anne Gunden dished out 17 assists while Audrey Schellenberg had 14.

In Match 2, Tabor lost to Lubbock Christian, 30-28, 24-30, 17-30, 22-30.

“Lubbock is a great team and hit the ball really hard,” Ratzlaff said. “You can’t play with these teams if you don’t play your best, and we didn’t play our best.”

Vogts led in kills with 14 followed by Whitcomb and Jill Hein with eight each as Tabor had 46 for the match.

Tabor’s front line had 13 blocks, led by Hein with four and Vogts with three.

“Once again we gave out quite a few free balls,” Ratzlaff said. “Lubbock Christian probably swings harder at the ball than most teams, so we also had a lot of blocking errors.”

Gunden had 27 set assists while Schellenberg added 13.

Match 3 found Tabor losing to Wayland Baptist University, 18-30, 28-30, 24-30.

“I feel like we could have done better in the match,” Ratzlaff said. “We tried to get things done, but just didn’t play sharp.”

Tabor had 36 kills, led by Vogts with 11 and both Suderman and Whitcomb with eight apiece.

Gunden was credited with 20 assists while Schellenberg added 14. At the net, Tabor recorded only five blocks.

Tabor lost their final match of the weekend to Southern Nazarene University, 20-30, 18-30, 30-16, 21-30.

Whitcomb had 13 of Tabor’s 50 kills, followed by Ashley Malcolm with nine, Ashley McKillip eight and Shannon Kroeker seven.

“We moved Malcolm to the outside so she had more opportunities,” Ratzlaff said. “I talked to the setters about trying to run our back sides more and getting more people involved in this match.”

Gunden had 26 assists and Schellenberg 17. Hein recorded five of Tabor’s 10 blocks.

“These women need to make up their minds to get the job done and I think that will happen now,” Ratzlaff said. “They realize we are a good team, but wins don’t just come to you-you have to go get them.

“We learned so much from this tournament just learning about ourselves mentally and seeing what fundamentals needs to be sharpened,” she added. “I think we came back with a better team atmosphere and got to the very heart of what it means to be a team.”

Tabor returns to KCAC action this week at 7-10 overall and 5-1 in the KCAC.

Bethel-Tabor came home from its first showdown with KCAC rival Bethel College with a disappointing at North Newton, 25-30, 26-30, 29-31.

“Our schedule up to this point allowed us to win without forcing us to be at the top of our game to be effective,” coach Amy Ratzlaff said. “I could really see that when we started this match.

“I don’t think we played to even 70 percent of our capabilities in this match,” she added. “We were slow and our offense wasn’t effective-there wasn’t even one part of our game that I’d say was average.”

After falling behind two games to none, Tabor seemed to have Game 3 under control, leading 27-20. But a late Bethel rallied to win the decisive game.

The Bluejay offense recorded only 38 kills in the match while committing 18 attack errors.

Staci Whitcomb led with 11 kills while Anne Gunden had 29 sets.

Defensively, Tabor had 16 blocks with Jill Hein picking up five and Lindsey Vogts four.

“We had more blocks, but the other team is always going to be more aggressive when we give them tons and tons of free balls,” Ratzlaff said. “Any collegiate team should be able to score off a free ball.

“You shouldn’t win a game when you play like we did.”

On the defensive most of the night, Tabor had 57 digs, led by Hein and Traci Neufeld with 12 and Whitcomb with 10.

“It’s always good to get a kick in the pants at this time of the season, and that’s where we’re at,” Ratzlaff said. “This increases our determination, though, and allows us to focus on what we need to do to be successful throughout the rest of the conference season.”

With the loss, Tabor dropped out of first place in the conference race at 5-1 and has an overall record of 6-7.

Southwestern-Tabor easily disposed of Southwestern College Tuesday, 30-18, 20-20, 30-10, in Hillsboro.

The Bluejays recorded 40 kills in the match led by Staci Whitcomb with 14 and Kelsi Suderman with 10.

Anne Gunden had 21 sets and Schellenberg 11.

Whitcomb also led Tabor with 13 digs; Traci Neufeld added 10 and Jill Hein and Audrey Schellenberg nine each.

Tabor recorded only five blocks.

“I was most pleased to see the women come out sharp in this match,” coach Amy Ratzlaff said. “Making improvements to make the last game more effective than the first two was a good sign.

“We played a little sloppy and that somewhat set the stage for Thursday night.”

Coming-Tabor has a busy week, having played host to Ottawa on Tuesday, then hosting Friends on Thursday and Kansas Wesleyan on Saturday at 2 p.m.

“We have to get our act together and sharpen up,” Ratzlaff said. “There’s no more playing at 70 percent potential if we want to win these games, but I think they’re games we can definitely get if we put our minds to it.”

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