LIBERAL – That next step has been a difficult one for the Barton volleyball team.
The Cougars have been playing some very good volleyball over the past month. But missing from that resume is a win over a ranked foe.
Barton had a chance to pick up that win Wednesday night in Liberal against No. 9 Seward County.
But much like other matches against ranked teams, Barton battled, but came up short. Barton showed its mettle before losing 25-20, 25-16, 25-18. The Cougars pressured the Saints in all but the second set in the loss.
Barton is still in third in the West, holding a one-half game lead on both Hutchinson and Butler. The Cougars are 7-3 in the West and 17-12 overall. Both Butler and Hutch are 7-4.
The Saints stayed unbeaten in the Jayhawk West with the win. Seward is now 11-0 in the West and 22-5 overall. That keeps the Saints one game clear of Colby in the West standings. Colby is 11-1.
Going into the match at Seward, Barton was 15-5 since the beginning of September. All five losses were to teams ranked in either the D-I or D-II poll.
In those matches, Barton showed its close.
The Cougars did it again in Liberal. Barton went toe-to-toe with ranked Saints in the opening set and the final set until late runs by Seward secured the match.
The Cougars fell behind early in the first set but an 8-1 run gave Barton a 16-13 lead at the Greenhouse. That is when Seward picked it up a notch, closing out the set on a 12-4 run to capture it 25-20.
Seward was very much in control of the second set from the start. Barton did get the lead down to 12-9 at one point but Seward was never threatened on the way to the 2-0 set lead.
The third and final set was all Seward to start, jumping to an 8-2 lead. At that point it would have been easy for Barton to throw in the towel to powerful Saints with a long trip home still awaiting.
But the Cougars fought back. Barton battled back to cut the lead to 14-13 following a 4-1 run. Seward countered with a run of its own to re-establish the lead at 17-13.
Barton had one more push in them, cutting the lead to 19-18 before Seward scored the final six points for the 25-18 win.
Barton is off until Monday when the Cougars take another crack at Seward. This time the match will be at the Barton Gym, starting at 6:30 p.m.