It always seems to be a battle when Barton and Hutchinson hook up for Jayhawk Conference action in any sport.
Volleyball included. So when the two teams battled in Jayhawk West action Friday nothing short of a good battle was expected.
The two teams gave those fans in attendance just that with the home fans watching their Cougars earn a hard-fought 4-set win over the visiting Blue Dragons at the Barton Gym.
Barton knocked off Hutch 25-19, 27-25, 10-25, 25-19 to keep pace with the front runners in the West standings.
The win puts Barton at 5-1 in the West and nipping on the heels of 4-0 Butler. Butler is all the way up to No. 7 in the nation with its 17-2 record. The Grizzlies are the Cougars only loss in West play this season.
Hutchinson fell to 4-4 in the West and down to fifth in the standings. The Blue Dragons are 12-8 overall. Right behind Barton in the standings is Seward at 4-1. The Saints are 11-3 overall and ranked No. 10 in the nation. Their only West loss is to Barton.
In the win over Hutch, Barton built a sizable lead in the first set then had to hold off a rally by the Blue Dragons. Barton led 10-4 and 16-8 before Hutch trimmed that lead to 19-17 before back-to-back kills by Joelle LaForce put the Cougars back on track.
Barton closed out the opening set on a 6-2 run for the win.
The second set was a slugfest. Hutch opened up a 10-5 lead before the Cougars came storming back thanks to a pair of Tasiah Nunnery kills and an ace from Hannah Miller to cut the lead to 12-11.
From there Barton kept nipping on the heels of the Blue Dragons. Hutch had a pair of set points in the game but Barton fought both off to tie it at 24-all after a couple Maria Santos kills. The Cougars took their first lead since early in the match on a Mylena Testoni kill, giving Barton a set point up 25-24.
Hutch would even it at 25-all before Barton closed out the match thanks to a pair of Blue Dragon hitting errors to take a 2-0 set lead.
The Cougars were never really in the third set as Hutchinson dominated throughout the 25-10 win.
The fourth and what would be final set had the Cougars in control much of the way.
A pair of service aces from Nunnery helped Barton build a 6-0 lead at the start. Hutch did cut it to 7-5 but Barton scored 10 of the next 14 to build a commanding 17-9 advantage and all but put the game on ice.
Hutch had one last rally to make it a 23-19 game but it was too little too late. Kills by LaForce and Nunnery closed out the set and match for Barton.
Nunnery led Barton with 17 kills to go with a team-high five aces and 11 digs. She was followed in hitting by Santos and Testoni with 12 each. Victoria DaSilva added 11.
Miller led the defense with 28 digs. Testoni, Isabella Guedes and Mya Maxwell each had 13 digs. Guedes led Barton with 26 assists and Maxwell had 24.
Barton will host Cloud County Wednesday in West play before heading to Liberal for a rematch with Seward on Saturday.