The Barton Community College volleyball team posted their second straight sweep earning a hard fought victory Saturday at the Barton Gym over No. 20 ranked Hutchinson Community College. Featuring fourteen ties in each of the first and third sets, the Cougars scored the last two points for a 25-23 opening set victory before pulling away late in the second winning 25-18. The Cougars then wrapped up the day outscoring the Blue Dragons 6-3 down the stretch for the clinching 25-21 win in snapping an eleven match losing streak to Hutchinson. The victory moves Barton into sole possession of fourth, just one game behind the leaders at 4-2 and 15-4 on the season. The Blue Dragons fall into a three-way tie for the top spot at 4-1 while dropping to 8-5 overall. Next up for the Cougars will be a Wednesday trip to Concordia for a 6:30 p.m. first serve at Cloud County Community College before next Saturday's 2:00 p.m. first serve against Seward County Community College.
"This was a big win for the girls," said a jubilant Head Coach Brandon Stephenson. "A true team win as not one person was any bigger than the other in this victory. Even our bench was alive with encouragement in helping the girls on the floor. However, its only one match with a lot of work still to do in getting better but we'll enjoy this one, come back on Monday, and get refocused on Cloud. Our league is too good for us to lose focus so we'll have to put this behind us and keep working to get better."
Neither team could gain any breathing room early in the opener with Hutchinson gaining a two point lead twice and Barton owning a two point lead once. Reigning conference player of the week Olivia Naccarato put up a monster block to seize a three-point Barton lead only to have Hutchinson respond out of a timeout winning four of the next five to tie it at 21. Trading points for the team's next two attacks, Monique Oliveira used a combination of thunderous and soft touch kills in breaking the fourteenth tie at 23-all for the Cougars' 25-23 win.
It was all Barton early in the second quickly building a lead only to have the Blue Dragons scrap back to tie it at ten. Led by the net play of Averie Warehime, the Cougars put together a stretch of taking seven of nine points opening up a 19-14 edge. A Hutchinson timeout did little to slow the momentum with the Cougars scoring four of the last five capped by an Oliveira soft touch kill over the block for the victory.
The third and final set was nearly a microcosm of the first with back and forth action with neither team getting any greater than a two point edge. Momentum started to swing in the favor of the Cougars at the final tie coming at 19-all as Naccarato alertly placed a kill in the back third capping a two point run forcing a Hutchinson timeout. The Blue Dragons cut it to one out of the break but the Cougars kept up the pressure scoring the final three points with the nail coming from an Oliveira thunderous mid-court kill.
Saturday ended a twelve match fifteen day stretch for the Cougars, coming out with a 9-3 record.
"Today's win was also great to end this grind of a stretch for the past two weeks on a high note," said Stephenson. "It will help us in the future as every match we'll have will be a tough one."
Barton also snapped a four match losing streak to Hutchinson at the Barton Gym, with the last victory over the Blue Dragons coming during Coach Patrick Hall's lone year at the Cougar helm in 2011 before moving on take over the Hutchinson program.
The Cougars hit .239 as a team after an opening set .291 attack. Oliveira led the Cougars in kills and digs posting her eighth double of the season. The freshman was joined by fellow Brazilian native Nathalia Gouveia with fifteen kills each, collecting thirty of Barton's thirty-eight kills, and Lydia Konrade on the back row with fourteen digs each. Carolina Goncalves put up thirty-two assists to eclipse the thirty assist mark for the eleventh time this season while Warehime led with four blocks.