LAMAR, Colo.— It was a bit of a rough start to the 2015 season for the Barton Community College volleyball team. The Cougars dropped their first three matches before finishing with a win Saturday to wrap up play at the Little Caesars Invitational in Lamar, Colo. at 1-3.
“We obviously wanted to win each match and we had our chances,” Barton coach Phil Shoemaker said. “But our inconsistencies got the best of us at times.”
Barton dropped a pair of games on Friday then the split Saturday. The Cougars lost in straight sets in the opener Friday to Otero (Colo). Barton closed out Friday with an exciting 5-set loss to Western Texas.
Saturday Barton lost in straight sets to host Lamar before finishing with a 4-set win over McCook (Neb).
“There is good news and bad news regarding our performance,” coach Shoemaker said. “We are playing a huge number of freshmen in key positions and we are extremely inexperienced versus collegiate competition, and that showed.
“We are learning, and I think our learning curve will be pretty steep. We have talent and the athletes want to improve and perform at a much higher level.”
Barton lost 25-17, 25-23, 25-15 to Otero to start the weekend. Sophomore Jordan Edelman and freshman Olivia Naccarato led Barton in kills with five and four. Naccarato also had three blocks.
Freshman Mallory McQueen paced Barton with 16 assists and freshman Lydia Konrade had nine digs. Another freshman, Sianna Cherweniuk had a good match as well with eight digs and two blocks.
The Cougars finished Friday with a battle with Western Texas. The Cougars were up 2-1 in sets but couldn’t close out and lost 16-25, 25-18, 17-25, 25-9, 15-13.
Freshmen Hannah Beam and Naccarato both recorded 10 kills to lead Barton. Freshman Brook Joslyn added eight. McQueen again paced Barton with 32 assists. Freshman Nathalia Gouveia had four services aces for the Cougars and 15 digs.
Barton was swept to start Saturday as Lamar rolled by the Cougars 25-21, 25-19, 25-16.
Beam and Joslyn had four kills each while Naccarato and Cherweniuk had two blocks each. McQueen led the Cougars with 24 assists and Konrade 12 digs.
Barton earned its first victory in the finale against McCook, winning 25-18, 23-25, 25-16, 25-14.
Barton racked up 60 kills in the win led by Gouveia with 14 and Beam with 11. Joslyn and Naccarato both had five blocks.
Sophomore Ashley Lockwood led three Cougars in double figures with 16 digs. Konrade added 12 and Gouveia had 10. McQueen led Barton with 46 assists.
“Statistically, our middles, Olivia and Brooke stood out on offensive,” coach Shoemaker said. “Mallory is going to be a very good setter and has shown real talent for running the offense so far. Nathalia adds a good competitive volleyball IQ, and some solid all-around play.”
Most of those names are freshmen.
“When you look at the stats you will notice that at least the top two performers in every single statistical category are freshmen,” Shoemaker said. ”I do not think that is going to change over the course of our season. Those numbers are going to go up as they get more experienced and in time I believe we will be a very competitive team in the KJCCC.
“It obviously bodes well for the future, but in the meantime it is likely that there will be a few growing pains. We know the expectations here are to win, and we plan to do that. What we control is our daily progress, individually, and as a team. That is where our efforts and focus are directed and that will give us the W’s we all want.”
Barton’s first home contest as well the first Jayhawk West game will be tomorrow when Garden City visits the Barton Gym for a 6 p.m. start. After the Jayhawk opener Barton will be at home Saturday and Monday against the Bethany and Sterling JV teams.
“I anticipate that we will show measurable growth each week as the season progresses,” said Shoemaker. “Our sophomores are providing good leadership on an off the court and helping these younger players get accustomed to college life.”