ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
The Tabor College volleyball team wrapped up its fifth consecutive Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference title Thursday with an impressive three-game sweep of Friends University, 30-16, 30-17, 30-23, in Wichita.
“It was a great night,” coach Amy Ratzlaff said. “To me, we played one of the best matches I’ve ever seen one of my teams play.”
Tabor recorded 46 kills in three games. Kelsi Suderman led with 11, Staci Whitcomb had nine and Jill Hein and Lindsey Vogts each contributed eight.
Tabor had 67 digs, led by Hein and Whitcomb with 15 apiece.
“We played well on offense, on defense and I think we picked up more balls than we have in any match this year,” Ratzlaff said. “We blocked better in this match-we were just a wall. If anything got past our front (line), we were picking it up.”
Tabor blocked 11 hits in the match; Hein led with five.
“We played great ball out of the middle court,” Ratzlaff said. “Jill and Lindsey did a great job of running a variety of things, and our hitting percentage was in the 30s as a team, which is great.”
Leading Tabor’s .324 hit parade were Vogts (.500), Hein (.429) and Ashley Malcolm (.308).
“We love to score when it looks perfect and like it’s out of the book, but we’ve been talking about how many more points we’d score if we would also be determined to score out of chaos,” Ratzlaff said. “I’m starting to see that.”
Anne Gunden offered 21 assists while Audrey Schellenberg added 15.
“From the Bethel match on (at home), we’ve played well,” Ratzlaff said. “That was a confidence-builder to come from behind like we did.
“To combine our talent with confidence is a big deal,” Ratzlaff added. “We can’t hardly take a breath, though, because this is a new season and we have to prepare for the post-season.”
Tabor finished the regular season with an overall record of 20-10 and a 17-1 mark in the KCAC.
Ottawa-The Bluejay handily disposed of Ottawa last Tuesday, 30-19, 30-25, 30-26.
“I feel the women came out and played a really strong first game and set the tone for the rest of the match,” coach Amy Ratzlaff said.
“Our offense ran really well the first and second games, but Ottawa started hitting the ball better in the third game because we gave them a little more chance to hit it.”
Tabor put down 11 kills in the opening game as the Bluejays attack percentage was .381. The defense blocked eight hits.
In Game 2, the Bluejays were tied with the Braves at 25 before dominating the final five points to go up 2-0 in the match.
“We dug our heels in to win the game,” Ratzlaff said. “I like the fact we don’t get panicked when we’re in a tight game. Instead, the women seem to draw from within themselves and find the necessary means to win.”
Tabor recorded 12 kills and 15 digs in Game 2.
In Game 3, Ottawa jumped to a quick lead but Ratzlaff said that was more the result of Tabor’s play, not Ottawa’s.
“They scored on our errors,” she said. “But the women are realizing sometimes it’s OK because we have the ability to turn games around even if we don’t get off to a great start.”
Tabor was led by Staci Whitcomb, last week’s player-of-the-week for both the KCAC and Region IV. Whitcomb had 12 kills in the match with an attack percentage of .625. She also led the Bluejays with nine digs while blocking three hits.
“Staci had a great match,” Ratzlaff said. “It’s outstanding to have 12 kills in a match.”
As a team, Tabor had 36 kills and 46 digs in the match and a .953 serving percentage.
Anne Gunden, last week’s KCAC setter-of-the-week, had 19 assists.
Coming-After earning a first-round bye in the KCAC post-season tournament, the Bluejays are scheduled to play host to Kansas Wesleyan Thursday in the second round.
The winner of that match will play for the championship on Saturday.
If Bethel wins Thursday, the championship will be determined in North Newton.
If the Threshers lose and Tabor wins Thursday, the championship will be played in Hillsboro with an automatic berth at the regional tournament on the line.
“The tournament is a respect thing for us,” Ratzlaff said.