STERLING, Colo. – There was little doubt winning a match at the Pizza Hut Invitational in Colorado over the weekend was going take some very good volleyball for the Barton Community College Cougars.
Not only were the Cougars taking on a pair of Top 5 teams in the country, their other two opponents have flirted with being ranked most of the season.
“It was great to have the opportunity to compete with some of the top teams in the nation and at times we competed very successfully with them,” Barton coach Phil Shoemaker said.
Barton’s best chances for getting some momentum was going to be the opening day as the No. 2 and No. 4 ranked teams loomed on Saturday.
But the Cougars came up empty. Barton lost its opening match of the weekend as Casper College (Wyo) beat the Cougars 25-18, 25-18, 26-24.
The Cougars came close to earning a win as Friday ended but lost to host Northeastern Junior College. The Plainsmen beat Barton 25-16, 25-23, 26-24. That would be as close as the Cougars would get to winning a set.
Then came the powers on Saturday. It started with No. 2 ranked Northwest College (Colo) beating the Cougars 25-10, 25-17, 25-9. The weekend closed with No. 4 Western Nebraska beating Barton, 25-15, 25-19, 25-18.
The losses drop Barton to 5-10 on the season.
On the weekend, Nathalia Gouveia led the Cougars hitting attack with 22 kills followed by Olivia Naccarato with 20. Hannah Beam added 16.
Mallory McQueen paced the Cougars with 43 assists followed by Ashley Lockwood with 24. Naccarato and Emily Deterding each had five service aces.
Defensively, the Cougars were led at the net by Naccarato with 11 blocks – eight solo. Brooke Joslyn added nine blocks.
Gouveia was in double digit digs twice and ended with 39 over the four matches. That was just better than Lydia Konrade who also had a pair of double digits matches and ended with 37.
“Our difficulties with our first contacts (serve receive and digging) gave us problems offensively and we were not as consistent as we needed to be,” Shoemaker said. “On the weekend I feel Nathalia and Olivia consistently played well as did Hannah Beam. We have lots of things to work on; technically and tactically, but our effort was strong.”
Casper was the only team to go 4-0 in the 6-team event, beating Western Nebraska in the final match. Western Nebraska handed Northwest College a defeat on the opening day as each went 3-1.
“Overall, we played some of our best volleyball of the year, and hope to carry that forward into this very important week, with tough league matches versus Colby and Cloud,” coach Shoemaker said.
Barton will get back into the Jayhawk West play Wednesday when they host Colby for a 6:30 p.m. start. The Cougars are 2-2 in the West while Colby is also 2-2 in the West and is 5-7 overall. Barton will travel to Concordia to battle Cloud County Saturday in a 2 p.m. start. Cloud is 2-1 in the West and 7-5 overall.