The Tabor College Bluejays were picked first in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference volleyball coaches preseason poll, which was conducted at the 2009 KCAC Sport Management Conference.
Bethel College, last year?s regular season and tournament champion, received one more first place vote than Friends.
?I think the ratings are mostly about how many people graduate and how many you have returning,? coach Amy Ratzlaff said. ?We?re returning the core of our starters. Bethel is always strong and is always strong in the ratings, but they did lose more seniors than we lost. That contributes to the preseason poll.?
Ratzlaff noted Friends? strength, and said the Falcons could have been picked higher.
?Friends is going to be a good team this year,? she said. ?They?ve got talent returning, setters returning, hitters returning…I might have placed them higher than third, and they?ll be a good team, I think.?
The Bluejays return senior hitters Ashley Cohlmia and Carly Kroeker as well as middle blockers Jordan Crosson and Gina Hullet.
?I feel like the seniors are going to provide some very good leadership,? she said. ?In fact, that?s probably the number one thing I?m looking forward to this year?that all the seniors have played for me either three or four years, and I think it?s a really good feeling. As a coach, it?s a good feeling to know what to expect and to know your players know what your expectations are?and this is a great year for them to work at putting it together. It?s their chance to be leaders.?
With the balance of the lineup shifting from youth to experience, Ratzlaff said she hopes to see more predictability in the Bluejays approach.
?I hope predictability is the word for what I?ll see from game to game,? she said. ?I feel like this team is a lot more like some of the teams we?ve had that were very successful, with tested leaders and a corps of women that have been together and share big goals.?
?This group, I think, will understand that it takes a lot of hard work, that it doesn?t come by easily and that where we?re rated in the preseason polls means nothing,? she added. ?It?s all about the work you put in, and this group understands we?ve got a lot to do to perform at the level some of our other groups were able to.?
Tabor also stands to gain a formidable front-line presence in junior transfer Tina Frick. Frick joined the Wichita State program after graduating from Hillsboro High School, and comes to Tabor with three years of eligibility remaining.
?Tina has had an amazing off-season with us,? Ratzlaff said. ?She?s one of us in that she has a great work ethic, and she fits in beautifully. She understands she?s going to have to work hard for a starting spot, and she has put in that hard work?she?s been very dedicated to the team, and I?m glad we got her to come at semester.
?The main thing is how she connects with a new set of players?that will be what determines how quickly she plays at the level she wants to play at. She will certainly make an impact on our team, but if she gets a starting spot, it will be because she earns it.?
2009 KCAC Volleyball Poll
1. Tabor (7 first-place) 77
2. Bethel (2) 70
3. Friends (1) 70
4. Bethany 51
5. Saint Mary 47
6. Kansas Wesleyan 39
7. McPherson 32
8. Southwestern 29
9. Ottawa 19
10. Sterling 16