The opening-round matchup of the NJCAA Region VI tournament is set.
Now it is just a matter of where that match will take place. The Barton Community College Lady Cougars and Cloud County Thunderbirds will meet for a third time Nov. 5 to start Region VI postseason action in what will prove to be the rubber match between the two teams that will be seeded fourth and fifth in the region.
Barton earned a regular season split of the series with a dominating 25-21, 25-20, 25-14 win over the Thunderbirds on Tuesday night at Kirkman Activity Center.
That temporarily pushes Barton 1/2 game ahead of Cloud in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference Western Division standings with a 7-6 record and into fourth place.
Cloud is done with the regular season at 7-7. Barton will travel to Colby today to end its regular season.
Since the Thunderbirds have the tiebreaker for region seeding purposes, Barton must win that match at the conference leader’s home floor. Colby is 12-1 in the West.
“I’m really pleased with our overall performance,” Barton head coach Phil Shoemaker said. “We knew it would be a tough match between two teams that are fairly similar, and obviously well matched considering we are basically tied in league standings.”
Tuesday night, the Lady Cougars hardly trailed all night long in earning the three-set sweep of the Thunderbirds on sophomore night on their way to a fourth straight win.
A pair of sophomores led the hitting attack on the night for Barton as Jori Mote finished the match with 10 kills and McKenzie Piland added 9.
Mackenzie Orchard added 6 kills on her sophomore night as well.
Freshman Jenna Reid also had a good night on the attack with five kills and no errors in her 12 attempts. Freshmen Laykn Rowden and Case Friesen each had 13 assists to pace Barton. Kiara Rivera, another of the four sophomores, had a pair of serving aces as did Jennica O’Neill.
Defensively Rivera led a balanced attack with 11 digs.
Friesen and O’Neill each added nine digs with Hoisington native Mykela Riedl finishing with (8) and Piland (7) combining for 15 more.
Reid and Piland led Barton with four and three blocks, respectively.
“Our goal was to win the serve and pass game, which we absolutely did,” Shoemaker said. “Our solid serve-receive and floor defense allowed us to battle effectively at the net and win enough battles to secure the victory.”
The win was the fourth straight for the Cougars – all in West play. It is the longest West winning streak of the season for Barton as well as the longest winning streak overall this year for the Lady Cougars.