It was a great start to the night for the Barton Community College volleyball team.
It just didn’t have staying power.
In the end, it was a tough five-set loss in Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference West volleyball for the Lady Cougars.
Pratt left the Barton Gym with a 7-25, 25-22, 25-17, 23-25, 15-8 win over Barton. The loss put a damper on the Lady Cougars’ quest for a top-four spot in the West and a home playoff game.
Pratt, meanwhile, moved into second place in the West edging a head of a quartet of teams.
“We knew the first set was way too easy and would not be repeated,” Barton head coach Phil Shoemaker said. “Sometimes I hate it when I am right.”
That first set was about as good as the Lady Cougars have played all season.
Barton had nine kills on 19 attempts with no errors in that 25-7 win over the Beavers. The Lady Cougars rolled out to a 10-2 start and steam rolled the Beavers.
The Lady Cougars started slowly in the second set but found themselves in position to win the set. The Lady Cougars led 22-18 — just three points from a 2-0 lead.
But Pratt closed out the set with seven straight points and the 25-22 win to even the match.
“Pratt is a team that prides itself on defense and does a lot of little things right,” Shoemaker said. “We played pretty good defense too with 88 digs but not maintaining our offensive aggressiveness was a major issue and played into their hands.
“Pratt proved they are pretty good and we have a lot of growing up and getting tougher to do.”
In the third set, Pratt started to take control. The Beavers rode six straight to an 11-4 lead, pushed it to 16-7 and coasted to the 25-17 win.
The Beavers appeared to be on the verge of closing out the match in the fourth set with a comfortable 21-14 lead.
But Barton would not quit on its home floor.
The Lady Cougars stared down defeat with eight straight points for a 22-21 lead and when Kylie Jones slammed the door with a kill the Lady Cougars had completed the rally for a 25-23 win and evened the match.
The conclusion to the match was anti-climactic for the Lady Cougars, however.
Pratt opened the deciding set with a 5-2 lead and increased it to 8-3.
The Lady Cougars made things somewhat exciting cutting it to 8-6 but Pratt responded by grabbing an 11-6 lead on the way to the 15-8 win.
Jessie Sewell had a great game for the Lady Cougars. The sophomore from Canada had 22 kills on 41 attempts with just four errors. That resulted in a .439 hitting percentage.
No one else had more than six kills. The Lady Cougars as a team collected 54 kills to 29 errors.
“Jessie had a monster game offensively for us but that was it unfortunately,” Shoemaker said. “We allowed their defense to get in our heads which resulted in second guessing ourselves, getting timid or indecisive and we made some errors that really hurt our chances.”
Casey Friesen led Barton with 28 assists followed by 12 from Lakyn Rowden. Kylie Jones led Barton with six blocks.
Defensively Barton posted 88 digs in the five-set marathon — its largest total in conference action.
Mykela Riedl led the way with 25, followed by Tahje Ochs with 16 and Friesen with 15. In all five Lady Cougars reached double figures in digs.
The Lady Cougars are now 4-7 in the West and sitting in sixth place. Barton is three matches behind a shot at a home-floor advantage in the Region VI playoffs in November.
The Lady Cougars still have time to reach that goal, but it is getting tougher as Barton has just five conference matches remaining to make up that three-game deficit.
Barton is 6-21 overall. Pratt, meanwhile, is now 8-4 and 20-8.
The match was the first of four straight at home for Barton.
Cloud County will visit the Barton Gym Saturday for a 1 p.m. start time. Dodge City will come to town Monday.