TC volleyball begins KCAC drive

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ANDREW OTTOSON
The Tabor College volleyball team entered the heart of its schedule this week, traveling to McPherson on Tuesday and hosting Kansas Wesleyan on Thursday before traveling to Bethany, Okla., for matches against four tough regional opponents.

The Bluejays started the week with a three-game win (30-22, 30-14, 30-28) over McPherson College, who had tied Tabor for the top spot in the conference standings.

“We are starting to execute our offense more effectively and that helped to set the tone at McPherson,” coach Amy Ratzlaff said. “The ladies were constantly pursuing the attack, and it helped keep McPherson from establishing theirs.”

As a team, the Bluejays averaged over 17 kills per game against the Bulldogs behind Lindsey Vogts and Staci Frick, who each averaged over four.

Audrey Schellenberg averaged 15 assists per game; her performance earned her the “conference setter of the week” honor and Frick was selected for weekly conference and regional honors.

Tabor (7-0) returned home to defeat conference foe Kansas Wesleyan (3-4) in three games (30-27, 30-17, 30-28). The Coyotes jumped out to an 11-6 lead in the first game, rallied to tie the game at 21, and KWU attacked inconsistently afterward.

Vogts had 10 kills in the match and Frick added 8 kills. Every player on the varsity roster got her hands on the ball against both the Coyotes and Bulldogs.

With two conference wins already under their belts for the week, the Bluejays headed south. Four tough non-conference road games against top opponents awaited them in Oklahoma.

Tabor, ranked sixth in Region IV, played its first match of the Southern Nazerene Tournament in an afternoon meeting with sixth ranked Region VII opponent Lubbock Christian University.

The Bluejays lost the match in three games, 30-19, 30-26, 30-17.

“We had a hard time getting our feet under us,” Ratzlaff said. “And we got off to a slow start.”

The Bluejays lost three straight games (23-30, 20-30, 28-30) against tournament host and Region VII’s second-ranked Southern Nazerene University later on Friday.

Facing an early matchup against Region VIII’s fourth-ranked Loyola University, the Bluejays pieced together a scrappy five-game victory (28-30, 30-28, 24-30, 30-26, 16-14) on Saturday morning.

“Our play improved over the weekend until we finally started looking like ourselves,” Ratzlaff said.

Against Loyola, Vogts and Frick combined for 46 kills-23 apiece. Frick also had 26 digs and Vogts recorded 11 assisted blocks.

Ashley Malcom and Traci Neufeld anchored the back row with strong defensive play, effective serving and superior passing.

Kelsi Suderman got in on 11 kills and three blocks and Schellenberg racked up 50 assists on 158 attempts.

“During our match with Loyola the women played hard and with great determination,” Ratzlaff said.

The Jays ended the grueling week with a three-game (20-30, 28-30, 27-30) loss to the eighth ranked representatives of Region VII, Wayland Baptist University.

But Ratzlaff marked the fifth game against Loyola as the week’s peak.

“The win in five was a tremendous way to end our week of play and hopefully it will help fuel us through another great week of conference play,” Ratzlaff said.

Tabor plays most of its conference matches in October and has eight home appearances left on its schedule.

Including tournament play, Vogts and Frick both had over three kills per game for the week, and Schellenberg averaged 10.5 assists. Traci Neufeld added 5.2 digs for the week.

The Bluejays are now first in the KCAC and rank sixth in the region.

The Bluejays open October at home against Bethany (2-5) on the 3rd and will meet Bethel (5-2) in North Newton on the 5th before a set of three home games: Ottawa (5-2) on the 9th, St. Mary (2-5) on the 11th and McPherson (6-2) on the 13th.

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