The Barton volleyball team has done its best to make last season a distant memory. It has been a very successful task. After all, Barton won just nine games last year. This year the Cougars are up to 24-9 overall under first-year coach Brandon Stephenson.
But one lingering memory from last year was still with the Cougars. The season ended for Barton at Cloud County. It was the Thunderbirds who sent the Cougars home to turn in their gear.
That put payback front and center for Barton Tuesday night as Cloud came to the Barton Gym to start the Region VI playoffs.
Mission accomplished. The Cougars ended the Thunderbirds season with a 25-15, 25-23, 25-18 win to start the post-season.
“The girls came out with the mindset of avenging last year’s season ending loss at Cloud County,” said Head Coach Brandon Stephenson. “Our focus was productive and our mental state was good from the start through the finish.”
The Cougars gained control of the first set with a 7-0 run to take a 16-9 lead. Olivia Naccarato put the set away with a kill and a 25-15 win.
The second set was tight throughout. The back-and-forth set saw 12 ties before the Cougars scored the final three points of the set for a key 25-23 win and a 2-0 lead. This time is was Averie Warehime’s kill from the backline that ended the set.
Barton and Cloud again battled to a close third set early on. In fact, a 5-1 run gave Cloud a 16-14 lead in the set. But Barton reeled off five straight points to take 19-16 lead on the way to the 25-18 win.
Naccarato and Nathalia Gouveia each had 11 kills to pace the Barton hitting attack. Barton had just nine errors all night while earning 41 kills.
Carolina Goncalves finished with 31 assists and seven digs. Lydia Konrade led Barton with eight digs. Naccarato led the Cougars with five blocks and Gouveia with a pair of service aces.
Now it’s on to Hutchinson and the Sports Arena Sunday for semifinal action. The Cougars will take top seed and host Hutchinson at 2 pm in the first semifinal. The second semifinal will follow with Seward County against Colby.
The Championships match is set for 6 pm.
Region VI Playoffs
First round, Nov. 1 and 2 at higher seed
1 Hutchinson def 8 Garden, 25-18, 25-16, 25-12
4 Barton def 5 Cloud, 25-15, 25-23, 25-18
2 Seward def 7 Dodge, unavailable
3 Colby def 6 Butler, 25-7, 25-16, 25-22
Region VI Championships
Nov. 5 at Hutchinson
1 Hutch v 4 Barton, 2 p.m.
2 Seward v 3 Colby, 4 p.m.
Semifinal winners, 6 p.m.