Coming off their first opening day win since 2011, the Barton Community College volleyball team carried the momentum twenty-four hours later dispelling Cloud County Community College in four sets to open up conference play. The Cougars took the first set 25-19 but dropped the second 25-18 before regrouping from a slow start to the third, the Cougars finished strong holding on for a 25-23 victory before rolling in the fourth 25-20. Next up for Barton will be their first road test of the year as the Cougars travel to Lamar, Colorado, for a four-match weekend in the Lamar Invitational.
"It was a good, hard fought win for us," said Head Coach Brandon Stephenson. "It's always nice to get that first conference win and gives us something to build on."
The Cougars grabbed the first four points and controlled most of the early going until Cloud began to inch its way back into the set eventually taking a 17-16 lead. Barton responded with the next three and following the T-birds burning their second timeout of the set, the teams traded a series of points before the Cougars took over. Led by the play of Kelsie Antcliff, Barton ran off the final four points of the set getting a kill and service ace from the freshman to clinch the six point win.As good as the first set was for the Cougars, the second was struggle throughout the set as Cloud County methodically built an eight point lead before settling for a 25-18 win.
Trailing early in the third by four points a couple of times, Barton started finding their stride again cutting the deficit to two before Nathalia Gouveia led a 4-0 run. Gouveia began the surge with a pin point kill down the line then buried two service aces increasing the lead to two. Freshman Averie Warehime's kill capped another run as the Cougars took 4-of-5 points in building the lead out to four. Despite a late T-bird push, Antcliff put the end to the rally coming up with several blocks including the set clincher giving Barton the 2-1 match lead.
"It was great to see the girls recover and put the second set behind them," said Stephenson. "The girls stuck together as a team, regained their focus, and fought for the victory throughout the match."
Scoring fourteen service aces on the night as a team, Gouveia led the way with six of her own including two straight leading a 6-1 start to the final set. An early Cloud County timeout halted the Cougars' six straight but did little to slow down the attack. Taking seven of eight points midway through the set, the T-birds were forced to burn their final stoppage of play as Barton built a 20-11 lead. Scoring the next four-of-five points, the T-birds made things interesting until a modest two point run gave the Cougars match point with a seven point lead.
"We definitely have some things to work on before our next conference match next Wednesday at Dodge City," Stephenson added. "As much as we learned what we need to work on, we also learned a lot about our team and their will to fight through adversity. Overall I'm very pleased with the girls and happy to get a solid conference win under our belts."
Gouveia put up her first double-double of the season and fifth as a Cougar leading the attack with sixteen kills to go along with ten digs and her six aces. Monique Oliveira recorded her first double-double with ten kills and thirteen digs while fellow Brazilian freshman Carolina Goncalves dished out thirty-eight assists with Lydia Konrade leading with fifteen digs.