The Tabor College volleyball team improved its conference record to 4-3 on the season so far, defeating Southwestern Tuesday (Sept. 30) and McPherson Thursday in three games apiece.
But the Bluejays were not able to carry enough momentum into Saturday?s triangular at Kansas Wesleyan to get by the Coyotes, with a 5-set loss leaving a sour taste that could not be sweetened by a thorough thumping of non-conference opponent York (25-15, 25-16, 25-23).
Tabor took the first and fourth games against the defending conference champion Coyotes, but could not find an answer for Sarah Claborn in the tiebreaker, losing 25-21, 20-25, 25-27, 25-12, 13-15.
?We did not play a well-rounded game against KWU,” coach Amy Ratzlaff said. “We came out sluggish and regained our momentum gradually through the fourth game. The fifth game started out flat for us, and although we battled back, it just wasn’t enough to win the ballgame.”
Tabor led the first game 3-2 and faced four ties?the last at 11-11?before stringing together a 3-point run capped off by an Ashley Cohlmia solo block that prompted a Coyote timeout.
Kansas Wesleyan won five of the next six points, but the Bluejays bounced back with a 5-point run of their own?a run capped with a kill by Jordan Crosson.
Crosson made it 21-17 a moment later, and the Bluejays a series of side-outs gave Tabor the four-point win.
The second game went decisively to the Coyotes, as Tabor did not win a point with its serve until the fifth rotation, when Crosson followed a serve by senior setter Audrey Schellenberg with a well-placed spike.
Cohlmia?s play stood out as the set progressed, as the senior outside trimmed a 7-point deficit to 13-17 during her serve. Cohlmia was also integral during a late rally, as the Bluejays pulled themselves out of a 24-16 hole.
Cohlmia recorded three straight kills as Tabor closed the gap to 20-24, but the game ended with a Coyote block.
The teams again traded ends, and the Bluejays led by as many as seven before a Kansas Wesleyan rally forced a Tabor timeout at 23-20. Claborn served an ace, then tied it at 23-all.
Cohlmia gave Tabor a shot at the game, at 24-23, but a net serve knotted it. The Bluejays got a second chance at 25-24, after a well-placed tip.
But the Bluejays again could not account for Claborn, who put away back-to-back kills to shift the advantage to the hosts, and Danielle Griffis finished it off at 25-27.
After a few minutes of exhortations from coach Amy Ratzlaff, the Bluejays regained their focus. The Coyotes meanwhile, brought no momentum into the fourth game. Tabor jumped out to a 5-1 lead on the serves of Beth Romero and never looked back, leading 8-2 at the start of Cohlmia serve and trailing 11-3 afterward.
Crosson wrecked havoc, scoring the 20-9 marker with her attack and making it 22-9 with her defense.
Heather Witham closed the book on the rout at 25-12.
The fifth game see-sawed.
K-W led 8-3 after an ace by Claborn, but the Coyotes roll stopped on a dime when Witham put down a solo block and followed it up with a solid kill.
A Wesleyan timeout did not stop the run, and Tabor narrowed the margin to one point, 8-9, before K-W scored again.
A Witham spike made it 10-11, and Crosson made it 11-12 with a tip. Crosson tied it with a kill
But the Coyotes regained the advantage and, after a Cohlmia kill made it 13-14, Claborn finished it with a blast.
Cohlmia had 16 kills, 11 digs and six aces. Claborn had 26 of the 49 kills by her team, and had six aces.
York?York was, at one point, on the wrong end of a 13-1 during their match with Kansas Wesleyan, and fared little better against the Bluejays.
?We played with a lot of energy and enthusiasm and it showed in our ability to hit the ball well,? Ratzlaff said.
Carly Kroeker had nine kills in the match, while Jordan Crosson and Ashley Cohlmia each had six.
McPherson?Tabor ripped McPherson (25-14, 25-17, 25-21), jumping out to a 6-1 lead in the first game, pushing out to 17-11 and closing the deal with a tumbling top-spin serve by Ashley Cohlmia.
Tabor led 8-0 in the second game and made it 24-14 during Audra Atwell?s rotation at the service line. Jordan Crosson had the game-ending kill.
The third game was a shade more competitive, as the Bulldogs led by two at one early moment. Cohlmia gave the Bluejays a 4-3 lead, and broke it open with her serve. Taking control at 15-13, Cohlmia ran off three straight points.
Jessica Dixon chimed in with an out-of-system kill at 23-17, and Heather Witham pushed McPherson to the brink with a spike at 24-18. The Bulldogs scored three straight points, but eventually cracked under pressure, giving Tabor its fourth conference win.
Southwestern?Led by Ashley Cohlmia, who scored 11 kills and 5 aces, Tabor shook off the Moundbuilders (25-16, 25-13, 25-15) in Winfield to close the book on September. Audrey Schellenberg averaged just shy of 9 assists per game for the set of three.
Coming?Tabor (6-10 overall) faces a slightly less stern test this week, having faced conference-leading Friends (7-0 KCAC, 12-6 overall) Tuesday in Hillsboro.
Tabor visits Sterling (1-6, 3-13) Saturday and will be visited by Bethany (6-1, 8-4) Oct. 13.