TC prepares to defend season title in playoffs

A five-game win over Friends last week set the table for this week’s games against Bethany and Bethel. Audrey Schellenberg (left) and Kelsi Suderman rose to the challenge last week, and both came up big to clinch the conference championship.

The Tabor volleyball team finished regular season play this week with a conference regular-season championship after a three-game win over Bethany Swedes and a four-game loss to Bethel Threshers.

The match against the Swedes went to Tabor 30-19, 30-25, 30-28 and was dominated by the Bluejays’ front line.

Lindsey Vogts, Kelsi Suderman, Ashley Malcom and Ashley McKillip downed a total of eight blocks and combined for 45 kills in three games.

Vogts led the way with 5.3 kills per game, and Staci Frick made her usual all-around contributions: two aces and a block to go with 20 digs and 11 kills.

Audrey Schellenberg quietly keyed the TC offense with a pair of aces in addition to 3.3 digs per game and an astounding 17.7 assists per game from the setter spot.

“Unbelievable-I consider 12 (assists per game) to be good,” head coach Amy Ratzlaff said.

The win clinched the conference title for the Bluejays.

In Thursday’s four-game loss to Bethel (22-30, 24-30, 30-22, 23-30), Frick tallied 13 kills and 20 digs.

The team repeatedly rallied behind effective serving.

“There’s a really fine balance between serving tough and not having a lot of serving errors,” Ratzlaff said. “We served tough, but we also had a lot of serving errors.”

“For as many errors as we had, we should have had a few more aces per game.”

Bethel jumped to an 8-2 start in the first game, and Tabor did not score consecutive points until, down 14-6, Frick’s serving earned three in a row.

Frick’s serves provided a another boost later in the game when, with the score at 22-15, Tabor narrowed the margin to 22-17, prompting a Bethel timeout.

After the timeout, Bethel grabbed five straight points to pull away.

The Threshers grabbed a 10-4 lead in the second game and held at least a five-point margin throughout the match.

But in the third game, Tabor kept the match within 2 points early on and took the lead for good at 12-10 on three straight points behind serves from Vogts.

In the fourth game, Bethel built a 7-2 lead at the start, stretched it to nine points and held on for dear life as Tabor cut the lead in half at 23-27.

Tournament play begins with the quarterfinal round on Tuesday.

As the regular-season conference champion and the No. 1 seed in the tournament, Tabor earned a bye and will play its first postseason match in the semifinals.

The winner of Tuesday’s match between Ottawa and McPherson will travel to Tabor for a 7 p.m. meeting Thursday in Hillsboro.

The winner of quarterfinal match in Hillsboro will then play the winner of the Bethel vs. Kansas-Wesleyan/Friends match.

The Bluejays swept both Ottawa and McPherson during regular season play.

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