Tabor was most effective, from a hitting standpoint, in Sets 1 and 2. The Bluejays hit .368 and recorded 16 kills on their way to a 25-21 win in Set 1. The Bluejays led from start to finish in that set, which ended with a kill by Tena Loewen.
Tabor followed that performance by tallying 15 kills and hit .387 to win Set 2 in convincing fashion, 25-11.
Saint Mary took an early, 4-3, lead, but Tabor established itself with an 11-2 run after that. Loewen led the charge with four kills during that stretch. The Spires responded with a 4-1 rally that closed the gap to 15-10, but the Bluejays took control from there, bursting to the finish by outscoring the Spires, 10-1. Loewen recorded two service aces during the run, while Amy Horner recorded three kills.
The Spires bounced back with a 27-25 victory in Set 3.
Tabor held a 20-15 lead after a kill by Loewen, but the Spires outscored the Bluejays, 9-1 after that to enjoy a 24-21 advantage. Two Spire errors and a service ace by Loewen tied it at 24, and the teams traded points until the Spires won it with a service ace.
A 25-22 Bluejay victory in Set 4 solidified Tabor’s win. Tabor had to rally from a 16-12 deficit, working to jump in front, 19-18. The Spires led, 21-19, late in the set, but a kill by Kendra Kroeker ignited a 6-1 Bluejay burst to the finish. Loewen solidified the win with a set-ending kill.
“The first two sets were definitely the most clean we’ve played and the most offensively productive we’ve been this season, and that really set the stage for those two sets,” coach Amy Ratzlaff said. “In Sets 3 and 4, we just started making errors—offensively and serving errors, and probably played more typical to early September play.
“We’re trying to make some changes on offense, just to make us balanced and effective, and I feel like we made those adjustments the first two sets, so that was encouraging. Sets 3 and 4 we kind of went back to our comfortable old ways, and that affected the outcome of those sets as well.”
Loewen led the attack with 19 kills. Keeley Kroeker had 28 assists. Ali Jost added 20 digs.
Sterling—Upon resuming conference play, Tabor swept the Warriors Wednesday.
Tabor won Set 1, 25-23. Following a 17-17 tie, Tabor gained a bit of distance with three consecutive kills—one by Kendra Kroeker and two by Tena Loewen. Sterling, however, used a 3-0 run to take the lead late, 23-22. After that, a Warrior attack error, a kill by Amy Horner and a service ace by Loewen sealed Tabor’s victory.
The Bluejays won Set 2, 25-22.
Tabor used a 6-0 run to take a 17-12 lead, but Sterling reclaimed it just as quickly with a 7-0 run of its own, fueled by five Bluejay errors. Loewen ended the streak with a kill, and a kill by Sydney Peitz later tied the game at 20. Tabor outscored Sterling, 5-2 after that, securing its final four points via kill courtesy of Loewen, Horner and Miranda Leibold.
Tabor won Set 3, 25-21. The Bluejays built a 7-3 lead out of the gate, but Sterling claimed it, 16-14. A kill by Leibold ignited a 4-0 Bluejay run after that, and Tabor never trailed again.
“It’s always good to beat a conference team in three,” coach Amy Ratzlaff said. “The games were close, but I never really felt like the girls panicked. They just kept playing steady, and it worked out for us. We made some key adjustments on defense that I think really helped. (It) just shows a lot of maturity in a team to be able to make those adjustments during a match.”
Loewen led the attack with 18 kills while hitting .234. Keeley Kroeker had 21 assists. Ali Jost had 18 digs.
Coming—Tabor (3-1, 6-7) was scheduled to play at McPherson (3-1, 9-3) Monday. The Bluejays will host Kansas Wesleyan (4-0, 7-9) tonight at 7 p.m., then will travel to Bethel (0-5, 0-7) Saturday at 1 p.m.