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Cougars win wild West battle at Dodge; ranked foes next up

DODGE CITY — It was the first of three straight matches that will most likely determine the Jayhawk West leader come later this week.

The Barton volleyball team traveled to Dodge City for a Saturday evening match in a battle of West unbeatens.

Sure, it is just a few games in, but for the Cougars it would be the first in a stretch of three games against unbeatens in the West.

Barton and Dodge lived up the town’s name as the Cougars and Conquistadors had a wild, wild battle in the Jayhawk West.

The Cougars ended up leaving with a win in four sets, 25-14, 15-25, 25-19, 26-24. Barton staved off four set points in the fourth, scoring the final six points to keep from a fifth and deciding set on the road.

The West lead now belongs to Barton at 3-0. The Cougars are 11-5 overall. Dodge it now 1-1 and 4-1.

Next up is Seward, 2-0 in the West and ranked No. 9 in the nation. Following that is a date with No. 18 Butler, also 2-0 in the West.

Those matches will take place next week at the Barton Gym.

Seward comes to town for a Monday battle while Butler visits on Wednesday.

Barton used a dominant finish to the first set to take an early lead. The Cougars trailed 13-11 before going on a 7-0 run to take an 18-11 lead. That was followed by another large run as Barton closed out the set on a 14-1 run for a 25-14 win.

Things didn’t go as well the second set. In fact, it was Dodge City that dominated the set, nearly matching the final of the first in a 25-15 win for the Conquistadors.

The third and pivotal set was a back-and-forth battle. Dodge jumped out to a couple early lead before Barton battled back. The Cougars eventually took the lead late on a pair of Victoria Da Silva kills and a key block with Isabella Guedes for a 17-16 lead.

Barton didn’t let up. The Cougars closed out the all important third set on an 11-3 run to put themselves within a set of victory, winning 25-19.

Getting to victory would not be easy for Barton. The two teams went toe-to-toe in the fourth set, battling to a 10-all tie before the Cougars got back-to-back kills from Tasiah Nunnery and Da Silva to take a 12-10 lead.

The slugfest continued as Nunnery paced the Cougars offense but they could not shake the Conquistadors. Mylena Testoni’s kill gave Barton a 16-15 lead.

Then it was Dodge’s turn. Some Barton miscues and a Dodge ace put the Conqs in control late, up 21-19. That lead grew to 24-20 as a fifth and deciding set looked intimate.

But the Cougars had different ideas. Another Nunnery kill cut it to 24-22. The Hays sophomore was not done. A couple more kills for her and a big block by Buse Kocakaya and Guedes gave the Cougars a 26-24 victory.

The win was the second straight since returning from a brutal trip to Arizona where the Cougars battled four ranked teams.

Barton is still perfect outside Arizona at 10-0.

Currently the Cougars lead the West at 3-0. Both Seward and Butler will come to the Barton Gym at 2-0. The battle with Barton is the next game on each the Saints and Grizzlies schedule.

First serve for both matches are set for 6:30 pm.