The Barton Community College volleyball team dropped its first opening set in eight matches falling in a spirited four sets to Seward County Community College Saturday at the Barton Gym. The Cougars bounced back from an opening 25-20 loss with a 25-13 throttling of the Saints to even the match, but as emotions and play ramped up, Barton came up on the short end of the final sets 25-23 and 25-20. The loss snapped a modest three game conference win streak dropping the Cougars to 16-5 overall while remaining in the fourth spot in Jayhawk play slipping to 5-3 as the Saints move into a three-way tie for first place at 6-1 and 14-5 on the season. Barton will next host Garden City Community College on Wednesday in a 6:30 p.m. first serve before stepping out of conference play for pair of matches Saturday in Hesston.
Quick starts have been a key contributor to the Cougars recent victories but it was the Saints who took the charge racing out to a 7-1 lead. With service receive playing a big part of the Cougars' demise, Barton began to shore up the back line with a four point stretch climbing to within two. The Saints responded with the Cougars nipping back at the deficit to again draw within a pair of points but a Seward 5-0 run and 7-of-8 stretch assumed command of the first set at 18-10. Barton was only to muster a trio of two point stretches the rest of the way hitting a paltry .103 as the Saints handed the Cougars its first opening set loss in its last eight matches dating back to September 9 in a 3-1 win over Vernon College.
The scrip flipped in the second set as Barton took early command building a 4-0 lead to 11-2 as it was the Saints who struggled with the Cougars' service with Nathalia Gouveia dealing six straight points. Despite two Saints timeouts in attempt to slow the momentum, the Cougars kept piling on points in part to five kills from Olivia Naccarato increasing the lead to 20-7 before Seward could string its first multiple points together. Barton matched the Saints pair of points to counter any type of run then closed out for the twelve point 25-13 match tying win while snapping a fifteen set loss streak to Seward.
Uncle Mo didn't stay long in the Barton huddle coming for the third set as it was the Saints who channeled the energy taking an early 5-2 lead. Barton battled back to tie it at five with the Saints responding with three straight holding off the Cougars until another tie coming at eleven each. As emotions and chatter among the two teams began to get more spirited, it was the Saints who took the energy to the next level taking five of the next six points to build a seemingly in-command 16-12 lead prompting a Barton timeout. Behind the play of Monique Oliveira, the Cougars roared back with their own 4-of-5 then tying it one point later coming out of a Saints timeout. Seward regained the lead with a pair of points and after exchanging digits on the scoreboard, the Cougars roared back with a trio taking just its second lead of the set coming at 21-20. The teams traded points with three more ties with a Barton service error putting the Saints ahead before securing the set point on another Barton error.
Going toe-to-toe through the mid-way point of the fourth with multiple red cards and long delays, again it was the Saints who channeled the emotion into points rattling off four straight grabbing a set defining 17-14 lead. The Cougars battled back with two straight coming out of a timeout but the Saints kept matching Barton's output forcing another timeout at 22-19. But this time the Cougars didn't respond and two straight by the Saints created match point, securing the key road win after a Barton solo point with the 25-20 victory.
Oliveira led the Cougars with sixteen kills for a .316 hitting percentage as Barton hit for their lowest percentage (.195) since their August 31 loss at Dodge City. Naccarato put down ten kills in the match with Gouveia close behind with eight. Carolina Goncalves reached the thirty mark in assist for the thirteenth time of the season with thirty-four assists to go along with three block assist to tie Naccarato for team high honors.