Bluejays to make first volleyball appearance

Miranda Leibold and Tena Loewen attempt to block a Spire attack during Tuesday’s KCAC quarterfinal match against Saint Mary. Tabor swept the Spires and went on to sweep Kansas Wesleyan in the semifinals before losing to Ottawa, 3-2, in the tournament championship. Tabor will face Wayland Baptist in the NAIA Opening Round Saturday. Photo by Janae Rempel

The Tabor College volleyball team finished as KCAC tournament runners-up to Ottawa Saturday to qualify for the postseason for the first time in program history.

The second seed in the tournament, Tabor took the top-seeded Braves to five sets in the championship, suffering a 3-2 loss.

Ottawa won Set 1, 25-20, but Tabor evened the match by claiming Set 2, 25-21.

The Braves regained the lead with a 25-20 win in Set 3, but again Tabor evened the score, winning Set 4, 25-18. Ottawa won Set 5, 15-12, to win the title.

Tabor hit .175 for the match with 64 kills. Ottawa hit .186 with 65 kills.

Amy Horner led Tabor’s attack with 19 kills. Megan Voth had 31 assists. Ali Jost had 46 digs.

Tabor 3, Kansas Wesleyan 0

KCAC Semifinals, Saturday

Tabor stayed alive in the tournament by sweeping the third-seeded Coyotes.

Tabor won Set 1, 26-24, hitting .167 with 15 kills.

The Bluejays were most productive offensively in a 25-18 Set 2 win. Tabor hit .375 and recorded 16 kills.

Tabor followed with a 25-20 win in Set 3.

Amy Horner led the attack with 23 kills on .348 hitting. Megan Voth and Keeley Kroeker each had 23 assists. Ali Jost had 21 digs.

Tabor 3, Saint Mary 0

KCAC Quarterfinals, Tuesday

Tabor swept No. 7 University of Saint Mary to open KCAC tournament play.

“We played quick, clean and aggressive, and that made it fun,” coach Amy Ratzlaff said. “Anytime your offense is controlling the game, it’s going to be fun to watch and it’s going to be fun to play.”

The Bluejays won Set 1, 25-13. Tabor recorded a hitting percentage of .355 with 16 kills, led by Amy Horner and Miranda Leibold with five each. Saint Mary scored the set’s first point, but a kill by Tena Loewen ignited a 4-0 run, and the Bluejays never trailed again. Tabor enjoyed its largest lead at the end, scoring the set’s final two points via a kill by Leibold and a service ace by Megan Voth.

Tabor won Set 2, 25-20, hitting .171 with 14 kills and eight attack errors. The Bluejays turned a 9-7 deficit into a 12-9 advantage, but Saint Mary would not go quietly. The Bluejays held a 21-19 margin late in the set and enjoyed a 4-1 finish including three kills by Loewen and a set-ending kill by Horner.

The Bluejays completed the sweep by winning Set 3, 25-17. Tabor hit .324 with 16 kills. The Bluejays fanned the flame early, as Loewen ignited an 8-0 run with a kill and capped the scoring burst with a pair of service aces. The closest the Spires got after that was within four, 20-16, but from there, Tabor outscored them, 5-1 to end it. Leibold scored the set’s final point via kill.

Amy Horner passes the ball forward during the second game of the KCAC tournament match verses the University of Saint Mary on Tuesday. Photo by Phyllis Richert “We started strong and finished strong tonight,” Ratzlaff said. “Sometimes it seems like we’ll do one or the other.

“Tena’s serving in Set 3 was phenomenal. For that kind of a server to have the control that she has is really unique. Usually those power servers don’t always have the best control, and she can drop it short, she can serve it long, and that’s really tough.

“It was really fun to see that. They all played well.”

Tabor tallied 46 kills, led by Horner with 17. Voth had 24 assists. Ali Jost had 14 digs.

Coming—With the addition of York and Oklahoma Wesleyan to the conference, the KCAC is now awarded two automatic bids to the postseason.

So Tabor, as tournament runners-up to regular-season winner Ottawa, will advance in addition to the Braves.

Tabor (25-9) will travel to Wayland Baptist (Texas) Saturday. Time is still to be determined. Wayland Baptist (24-15) was the highest tournament finisher in the Sooner Athletic Conference.

The teams are familiar opponents. Tabor swept Wayland Baptist in three sets in early September.

This is Tabor’s first postseason appearance in program history.

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