The Barton Community College volleyball team begins its quest for its twenty-third Region VI title on Sunday at the Hutchinson Sports Arena. The bid will have to go through the top teams in the region beginning with taking on top seeded Hutchinson in the 2:00 p.m. semifinal match, then defeat the winner of third seeded Colby Community College and second seeded Seward County Community College in the 6:00 p.m. championship match. The winner of the Region VI Tournament advances to the NJCAA Division I Championship tournament in Casper, Wyoming, taking place November 17-19.
The fourth seeded Cougars and Blue Dragons split the two regular season meetings with each winning on their own home floor. Barton will bring a 24-9 record to the match, its best since now Hutchinson Head Coach Pat Hall led the Cougars to its last Region VI title in 2011 finishing the season at 29-14. Coach Hall and the 24-11 Blue Dragons tied Seward County for the Jayhawk West title at 14-2 for their fifth straight championship and will also be seeking their fifth consecutive trip to the national tournament.
In Barton's sweep back on September 17, 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 victory outscoring the Blue Dragons 6-3 down the stretch for the clinching 25-21 win. The match also featured fourteen ties in each of the first and third sets as Barton snapped an eleven match losing streak to Hutchinson.
The script flipped on October 19 at the Hutchinson's Sports Arena as the Cougars were dropped in three by the Blue Dragons. Never looking in sync in a 25-14 first set loss, the Cougars still didn't have an answer for Hutchinson in the second losing by 25-12 before a 7-1 mid- third set spurt by the Blue Dragons led to a 25-21 match clincher.
The Cougars opened up region play with a sweep of Cloud County (25-15, 25-23, 25-18) for the program's 1415th victory in its thirty-seven years of competition, while Hutchinson easily dispatched Garden City (25-18, 25-16, 25-12) for its eighth straight victory.
Barton's victory over Cloud County was number 1415 in the storied Barton Volleyball history against just 338 losses in program's thirty-seven years of competition.
Admission to the event is $5 for adults and $4 for kids 8th grade and under while preschool aged children are free. Doors to the Sports Arena will be open to the public at 1:00 p.m. with parking located on the west side of the Arena being accessed from the southwest corner of the lot near Stringer Fine Arts Center.
For fans unable to make the trip, the Barton Sports Network will be broadcasting the Cougars' in the tournament available on the web. Access can be found by going to www.BartonSports.com and clicking on the "Schedule" or "Scoreboard" tab located on the right-hand side of the web page. In addition, fans can follow updates on Facebook or Twitter on the "Barton Sports" respective pages.
Should Barton knock off the Blue Dragons, they will face the winner of Colby-Seward County at 6:00 p.m. The Cougars didn't fare well against either team going winless by an identical 3-1 scores in each of the four contests.
Barton lost at home to the Saints in late September (20-25, 25-13, 23-25, 20-25) then squandered a first set victory in Liberal in late October (25-22, 16-25, 17-25, 14-25).
The Cougars also lost an opportunity against Colby in a mid-September hosting of the Trojans taking the first set before losing three straight (25-20, 23-25, 17-25, 18-25) then repeating the loss mid-October in Colby (25-22, 25-23, 20-25, 21-25).
Colby is the conference leader in team hitting percentage at .255. Seward County is second at .251 and Hutch right behind at .250. Seward County is statistically the top blocking team of the remaining four teams at 2.43 blocks per set. Barton is at 2.30 and Hutch is at 2.29.