The task was a tough one Wednesday night at the Barton Gym.
The Barton Community College volleyball team was hosting the top team and defending champions in the Jayhawk West. The Hutchinson Blue Dragons brought the No. 5 ranking in the country to Barton and an unbeaten West mark with them.
The Blue Dragons left with the unbeaten West mark in tact after defeating Barton, 25-12, 25-18. 25-9.
“Hutch had three athletes, a rightside, a middle, and an outside that we had no answer for physically,” Barton coach Phil Shoemaker said . “So, if we didn’t put them out of system, and sometimes even if we did, they were able to get the ball to athletes who were exceptional attackers, and we did not defend them well, even if they did the same shot repeatedly.”
The loss drops Barton to 2-5 in West play and 5-13 overall. Hutchinson remains unbeaten in the West at 7-0. The Blue Dragons are 14-1 overall.
The Blue Dragons were never really challenged. Barton did stay with Hutch early in the second set tied at 11 but the Blue Dragons scored six of seven points to take control.
“At times we battled very well, and evenly. I am encouraged by the effort given by Nathalia (Gouveia), Lydia (Konrade), Jordan (Edelman), Mallory (McQueen), and Olivia (Naccarato)” coach Shoemaker said. “In order to win however it is necessary that we battle better; more efficiently, and that just didn’t happen.”
“We did not have a good game in serve receives,” he said. “And that caused us problems with our setting and hitting. Again, not necessarily a lack of effort, though sometimes a lack of communication, but we did not perform as well as needed, and when you do not control the first contact it can have a domino effect throughout the play.”
Naccarato led Barton with seven kills while Konrade paced the Cougars with nine digs. McQueen had 15 assists.
Next up for Barton is a quartet of ranked Division II foes at the Johnson County Challenge as the Cougars look to break a 10-game skid.
“I think our athletes all want to break this skid we are experiencing,” said Shoemaker. “And it is tough due to the quality of the opponents we are facing. For us to be successful we will need to mentally put the past behind us and find the courage and mental strength to perform as best we can and with greater consistency.”
“Every time we take the floor I can see improvements in some technical and tactical elements of the game,” he said. “That is encouraging. Our ability to play a more complete game, especially competitively, and against good competition is our challenge.”
The Cougars will battle No. 6 Des Moines Area (Iowa) and No. 9 Central Community College (Neb) Friday.
Barton starts Saturday with unbeaten and top ranked Parkland (Mo) then battles No. 11 Kirkwood (Mo) to close out the Challenge.