The Barton Community College volleyball team looked like a team headed for a quick Monday night at the Barton Gym winning the first set but the tide turned late in the second leading to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Colby Community College. Barton took the first set 25-20 and led by six late before the Trojans closed on a 10-2 spurt to win 25-23. Colby then rode the momentum to a 25-17 third and a 25-18 match clincher fourth. The Cougars drop to 2-2 in conference play and 13-4 overall while Colby improves to 4-1 in the West and 11-1 overall. Barton continues its busy stretch of matches on Wednesday traveling to Pratt Community College for a 6:30 p.m. first serve before hosting No. 20 Hutchinson Community College at 2:00 p.m. Saturday.
The night started well for the Cougars going on a 5-0 run building a 13-8 lead in part to three kills from Shayde LeClair. Making the start in place of an ailing Monique Oliveira, the Wyoming freshman led the .591 first set with five of the Cougars sixteen kills.
The set started to turn via the service line as Colby's Melanie Loiseau drilled three consecutive aces leading a 5-0 Colby run to tie it at 14. With Barton clinging to a 16-15 lead, the Cougars'Olivia Naccarato equaled Loiseau's feat drilling three ace serves of her own leading a 4-0 run to widen the lead out to 20-15 going on to match points the rest of the way for the five point win.
Naccarato added her fourth service ace in the second leading a charge of winning 7-of-9 points to force a Colby timeout at 16-12. The lead grew to six at 21-15 but the Trojans' Aleksandra Malek began to carry the team leading a four point spurt before Nathalia Gouveia stopped the streak with a cross court kill off the blocks as the Cougars clinged to a 22-19 lead. Coming out Colby's last timeout, the Trojans responded with three straight to tie it up forcing Barton to burn their first of the set. Barton would score the next but Colby got the serve back and Malek put the dagger in the Cougars spinning two aces to complete the Colby comeback 25-23.
"We need to make sure our focus is on each and every set of every night," said Head Coach Brandon Stephenson. "Focus on the fundamentals and sticking with the game plan. Colby is a very good team and you have to be focused and sound in all aspects. I don't know if it was fatigued that caused us to lose focus, but we lost it after the first set."
Aside from Naccarato single handily keeping Barton in the third set early on with two kills, a block, and two service aces, the Cougars continued to struggle despite leading 12-11. A four point surge by the Trojans flipped the tide and led 16-15 before putting the foot on the gas with five straight busting open the set at 21-15. Barton could only manage two more points as Colby won nine of the last eleven points winning 25-17.
"Our league is one that if you are off your game that night, teams will make you pay for it," remarked Stephenson.
As momentum had turned and a fatigue started to show its colors, even the assertion of Oliveira did little to change the set as Colby built an early 12-5 lead. Behind a raucous student body, the Cougars did show another surge of life scoring five of the next six getting a thunderous kill by Gouveia forcing a Colby timeout. The teams traded the next pair of points before Naccarato's seventh ace drew the Cougars to within 15-14. It would be the last big surge for Barton as Colby would go on a 5-1 run ballooning the lead to five, ending the match with a 4-0 run and appropriately enough, a Malek cross court kill to end it at 25-18.
The Colby win was just the fourth in nineteen meetings at the Barton Gym, with all four coming in the past four trips to Great Bend as the Trojans also won their seventh straight against the Cougars.
"Our kids seem afraid of being good," said Stephenson. "We have success, have proven we can have success, but we seem afraid to embrace success and take it to the next level. We'll get there, tonight is just one loss and is just a learning moment we will build upon."
Gouveia led the Cougars with her seventh double-double of the season on thirteen kills and thirteen digs with Carolina Goncalves putting up thirty-eight assists. Naccarato finished with ten kills, Kelsie Antcliff with seven, and LeClair finishing up with six kills on an efficient .462 percentage.