ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
The Tabor College volleyball team capped out a busy week of conference play Saturday with a win at home against Kansas Wesleyan.
Although it took four games, Tabor finally prevailed 30-25, 30-20, 29-31, 30-21 in the match played in Hillsboro simultaneously with the Bluejay football game played at Sterling.
“I told the women it’s hard to give up your crowd, but Kansas Wesleyan didn’t have one either,” coach Amy Ratzlaff said. “We’ve been trying to learn as a team how to get ourselves going without relying on someone else, so this was a good test for us to play hard and without a crowd.”
Staci Whitcomb had a big day with 20 kills in 39 attacks (.462) and 18 digs.
“Staci had a solid day all the way around,” Ratzlaff said. “She was amazing.”
Tabor’s balanced offensive attack also featured Shannon Kroeker and Lindsey Vogts with nine kills each and Jill Hein with eight. The team combined for 59.
“One of the big steps we took in this match is that we were able to use a variety of hits and we’re no longer relying on the same hits all the time,” Ratzlaff said.
“Kansas Wesleyan has good enough athletes that they can block us when they know what we’re doing, so our setters made good choices to mix things up.”
Those setters were Anne Gunden with 25 assists and Audrey Shellenberg with 20.
Traci Neufeld, sporting an effective jump serve, finished with six of the Bluejays’ 16 service aces.
On defense, Hein recorded 13 blocks while Ashley McKillip added six of the team’s 32.
“Jill automatically shifts into overdrive and her natural abilities help her anticipate and shift directions,” Ratzlaff said. “She just gets the job done.”
With the win, Tabor evened its season mark at 10-10 while improving to 8-1 in the conference.
“This was a great week of volleyball for us,” Ratzlaff said. “I couldn’t have been more pleased with how they came out and took care of business.
“If we would have lost the Wesleyan match, we would have fallen into a tie for fourth place. We can’t afford to lose at home if we want to win this conference.”
Friends-Tabor swept Friends University on Thursday before a raucous home crowd, 30-18, 30-21, 30-25.
“Friends is a good ball club,” coach Amy Ratzlaff said. “But our offense ran smoothly in this match and that’s how we were able to stay in control.”
Leading the way was Lindsey Vogts, who recorded 13 kills in 22 attacks (.545).
“I continue to be amazed with her capabilities,” Ratzlaff said. “The thing about her is that whenever we get her the ball, it’s like she has a touch of gold.
“She can take any shot she chooses-to have that in the middle is incredible,” she added. “When I tell Lindsey where the open spot is, she can hit them and that makes her twice as valuable to us.”
Staci Whitcomb added nine kills and Jill Hein eight. Hein also contributed 11 digs.
“Jill had a great night for us on both offense and defense,” Ratzlaff said. “She understands the object of the game is to keep the ball on the other side of the court.”
Anne Gunden had 27 assists and Audrey Shellenberg 16.
“When our offense runs that well, it limits the ability of the other team’s offense,” Ratzlaff said. “We kept them scrambling and that makes things easier for us, point for point.”
Ottawa- Tabor defeated Ottawa on Tuesday, 30-18, 30-13, 30-28.
“I was so excited to see the women make the decision to play ball, and hopefully that will continue,” coach Amy Ratzlaff said. “I don’t think our losses to Bethel (the previous week) were a lack of ability. But I do think with Ottawa, we definitely understood the purpose of what we were there for and got the job done.”
Jill Hein and Staci Whitcomb each contributed 11 kills while Ashley Malcom added eight.
Anne Gunden had 19 assists and Audrey Shellenberg 15.
“I couldn’t have been more pleased with our offense,” Ratzlaff said. “I think it ran more smoothly than it’s run probably all season, and that was because our passing was better and our hitters were terminating that ball, which is something we’ve been working on.”
Defensively, Hein had four blocks and 10 digs while Traci Neufeld added 10 digs.
“Jill had an outstanding match, but every other person contributed to our success and that’s where we have to come from,” Ratzlaff said. “It was a fun evening.”
Neufeld and Gunden both contributed three service aces.
Coming-Tabor traveled to McPherson Monday night to tangle with the Bulldogs, then heads northeast to battle Saint Mary on Thursday night.
On Friday night, the Bluejays step out of the KCAC to host Kansas Newman in a huge Region IV matchup.
“Newman is rated above us regionally,” Ratzlaff said. “We hope we have a huge crowd for this match.”
The volleyball game precedes Friday night’s kickoff to the 2005-06 basketball season.
Numerous Tabor College athletes will be available to sign autographs; numerous giveaways are planned.