It took the Barton Community College volleyball team five matches into the conference season but the Cougars knocked the proverbial monkey off their back Wednesday night in Concordia with a four set victory at Cloud County Community College. The Cougars held off a rally to win the first 25-23, temporarily taking the match off in the second losing 25-13 before hammering the T-birds in identical 25-14 scores to snap the conference drought. Improving to 1-4 in Jayhawk play, the victory also puts an end to a seven match losing streak to even Barton's season mark at 9-9 while keeping Cloud County winless in conference at 0-4 and 3-10 on the year. Barton's next court time will come Monday against the other end of the conference spectrum as co-leader and nationally receiving votes Hutchinson Community College (4-0, 8-4) comes to Great Bend for a 6:30 p.m. first serve.
"It was far from perfect but we'll take the win," said a relieved Head Coach Brandon Stephenson. "We still have a lot of work to do especially in preparing for a tough upcoming match against Hutchinson."
Barton began the night doubling up Cloud County 12-6 before a T-bird timeout began a reversal of fortune. Climbing back into the set forcing a Barton timeout with a one-point deficit, Cloud County would surge ahead in the set 18-17 behind four straight only to have the Cougars respond with four straight of their own to burn the T-birds' second timeout. Barton would grab the next point to grow the lead to five, eventually having set point at 24-20, but Cloud County wouldn't go away rattling off three straight before the Cougars were able to put down the final point of the 25-23 win.
The momentum gained by the T-birds to end the first carried over to the second in jumping out to an 8-2 lead. A Barton timeout did little to slow down the early onslaught as Cloud County scored six of the next seven to bury Barton in a 15-3 hole going on for the same margin 25-13 match tying set victory.
The Cougars regrouped during the intermission three minutes and despite trailing 2-3 early, gave the T-birds a dose of their own medicine with seven straight jumping out to a 9-3 lead. After Cloud County crept back to within five, Barton stomped on the gas with eight straight, outscoring the T-birds 22-5 since trailing early to run away with the 25-14 win.
Up 2-1 in the match, the night didn't appear headed to an early shower as Cloud County grabbed a 10-8 lead. Beginning with one of Monique Oliveira's season high eighteen kills to flip emotions, Barton would sandwich a pair of three point spurts on either side of the T-birds' eleventh point to assume command at 15-11. Cloud County would temporarily halt the surge with their twelfth point but Barton would string four straight together and never look back in later closing out the match on a 6-0 run to earn the Cougars' first conference victory.
Oliveira's .405 attack helped lead Barton to the first time over .200 in ten matches as the Cougars finished at .212. Laine Conceicao also had a season best effort tying her career best ten kills with Carolina Goncalves putting up her season second best 37 assists while Kassi Gratton led the defensive effort with sixteen digs.