The Barton Community College volleyball team prevailed in a tough first round Region VI match Tuesday night at the Barton Gym, coming away with a 3-1 victory over Butler Community College 25-22, 22-25, 27-25, and 25-9.
The win improves the region's fourth seeded Cougars to 22-14 on the year and more importantly advances Barton into the semifinal round of the Region VI Tournament on Sunday in Liberal against Wednesday's victor between eighth seeded Dodge City and top seeded and 6th ranked Seward County. The fifth seeded Grizzlies end the season at 15-15.
"It was a hard fought match between two good teams tonight," said Barton Head Coach Brandon Stephenson. "Now we need to continue in fixing some things and move forward into Sunday."
Barton broke the opening set's 15th tie with four straight but Butler fought back with five straight of their own in claiming a 20-19 lead. The Cougars surged back ahead with two straight and following Butler tying it up for the 11th time of the set, the Cougars took four of the final five to take the early match lead.
The Grizzlies jumped out with the second set's first four points as the slow Barton start would eventually lead to a 7-4 deficit. The Cougars started to gain momentum with a 4-0 run to take the lead but Butler bettered the effort with five straight to open up a 12-8 advantage. The gap increased to six at 21-15 but the Cougars fought back to within two with four straight. Much like Barton did in the first, the tide turned down the stretch as Butler would even the match in holding on for the win.
Butler again had the early advantage to begin a set, grabbing the first three points and holding the third set lead until Barton inched its way back in taking an 11-10 lead. One Grizzly point later to tie it up, Barton rattled off a trio of points before the lead seesawed back to Butler after five straight. The teams dueled it out back and forth throughout with a four-of-five stretch gaining the Grizzlies a four point lead at 22-18. Barton responded with two straight and following a trading of points, Butler threatened to take the match lead gaining set point at 24-22. The Cougars kept fighting with two straight, faced another set point at 25-24, and then reeled off the final three points in stealing the third set 27-25 win.
"We had to fight hard to dig ourselves out of slumps in the second and third sets," said Stephenson. "The way we fought back at the end of the third was great to see. I feel they really came together as a team on the court and we carried it into the fourth set."
The Cougars had all the momentum into the fourth but Butler didn't seem phased early on as the teams were tied at four. From there things turned ugly as the Cougars pounced on the Grizzlies taking seven of the next eight causing Butler to burn their first timeout in an 11-5 hole. Behind the attack of Migle Mazurkeviciute and two service aces, the Grizzlies used their final timeout facing an eight point deficit at 14-6. Barton continued to put the hammer down from there, rattling off six of the next seven to triple up the Grizzlies before closing out the match on a 5-1 stretch.