PRATT — Teams like to play their best as they head into the postseason.
That seems to be the case for the Barton Community College volleyball team, as they won their third straight match with a road Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference Western Division win at Pratt on Thursday night.
The Lady Cougars started slowly in the match, but gathered momentum as it went along.
Barton lost the opening set, but it won the final three for a 21-25, 25-16, 25-23 and 25-17 West win.
The win moved the Lady Cougars to .500 in the West with a 6-6 record, and they improve to 10-18 overall this season. Pratt falls to 2-10 in the West and 6-20 for the season.
“We got off to a slow start,” Barton first-year head coach Phil Shoemaker said. “We weren’t ready to compete. Once we got rolling we were able to dictate the pace of the game better.”
The Beavers went on a 6-2 run to pull away for the win in the opening set after the contest was tied at 19.
In the second set, Barton scored seven straight early to take an 8-2 lead. The Beavers cut it to 11-8, but Barton responded with another big run to push the lead to 19-9 and coast to the 25-16 win.
The third set saw the Beavers take an early lead in the contest, jumping on top 7-2.
Pratt kept that margin at 3-5 points, leading at one point 16-11.
That is when Barton found a rally.
The Lady Cougars scored three straight to make it 16-14 and tied the game at 17. The back-breaker came when Barton scored four straight to take a 24-21 lead then held on for the 25-23 win.
The Lady Cougars jumped out early in the fourth and final set, grabbing a 5-1 lead and never trailed on the way to the 25-17 win.
Wichita native McKenzie Piland led the Barton hitting attack with 16 kills on the night, followed closely by freshman Jori Mote of Weskan with 14.
Mackenzie Orchard and Jenna Reid each added 9 kills.
“We had some nice performances offensively from Jori, Jenna and our middles,” Shoemaker said. “We had a couple of huge plays offensively and defensively from McKenzie Piland.”
Piland was big on the defensive end along with Kiara Rivera.
Rivera led Barton with 18 digs with Piland adding 17. Also recording double-digit digs was Casey Friesen with 12 and freshman Mykela Riedl of Hoisington with 10.
Piland, Reid and Orchard all had four blocks for Barton.
“Kiki (Rivera)and Mykela led our floor defense,” Shoemaker said. “We had some big blocks from Jenna that helped propel our team to victory.”
The Lady Cougars kept hopes alive to an opening-round NJCAA Region VI playoff game with the win, pulling to within 1/2 game of the Cloud County Thunderbirds for the fourth and final home spot.
Cloud lost to Colby on Thursday in straight sets to fall to 7-6.
The Lady Cougars and Thunderbirds will meet at Kirkman Activity Center on Tuesday night in Cloud’s final region match.