The Barton Community College volleyball team handled Cloud County Community College for a 3-1 match victory Saturday at the Barton Gym to sweep the season series over the T-birds. The Cougars took the first two sets rather handily at 25-12 and 25-17 but following a ten minute intermission, dropped the third 25-19 before pulling away late for a 25-20 match clincher. The victory improves the Cougars to 6-7 in conference play and 14-12 overall while Cloud County drops to 1-12 and 4-21 on the year. Barton's next court time will come Wednesday as the Cougars travel to Liberal for a 6:30 p.m. first serve against No. 5 ranked Seward County Community College.
"The girls played well especially in the first two sets," said a relieved Head Coach Brandon Stephenson. "We still have areas we need to continue to work on going into the Seward County match on Wednesday."
Reigning conference player of the week Laine Alves Conceicao bounced back from Wednesday's seven kill performance with fifteen, two shy of her collegiate best, to hit double-digit kills for the fifth time in the last six matches. The freshman's effort came on twenty-five swings for a .440 attack helping the team to a .243 afternoon. Monique Oliveira and Kelsie Antcliff pounded down nine and eight kills respectively.
Joining Conceicao in the Cougars' sweep of the conference awards last week, setter Carolina Goncalves put up 23 in the 6-2 attack while Ilona Boniface led a balanced back line of defense with nine digs. Barton's other setter in the offensive set, Kaila Harris, also helped the Cougars to their best attack in four games putting up eighteen assists. Kailey Harris led with four blocks, three solo and two assisted, as Barton would finish with five solo and twelve assisted blocks.
Trailing 7-5 the Cougars began to take control of the opener as Harris buried two service aces within a 7-0 run to grow a Barton advantage to 12-7. Following two T-bird points, Conceicao was lethal on the attack burying one of her five set kills to help the Cougars bust open the set scoring seven of the next eight points for a 19-10 lead. Averie Warehime and Conceicao kills, along with a Harris and Antcliff assisted block left little hope for the T-birds down the stretch as Barton's .417 attack would close out scoring the final five for the thirteen point victory.
A pair of three point stretches helped Barton get off to a good start to the second but Cloud County came fighting back grabbing six-of-seven points in closing to 12-11. Conceicao kept the T-birds at bay in crucial times with a pair of kills including leading a 3-0 run to grab separation. An Antcliff tip over the block provided the final dagger late in the set keeping the Barton momentum rolling as the Cougars' 7-1 close out was capped by one of Goncalves' three service aces on the afternoon.
Following the ten minute intermission, the T-birds looked like a refreshed team while Barton tried to adjust as new faces were being mixed into the lineup. Outscoring the Cougars 7-2, Cloud County grabbed a 7-4 lead before Barton was able to claw back in cutting the deficit to one twice. It would be the close as Barton would come the rest of the set as the T-birds' 4-0 run gained a five point separation going on to widen the margin to 19-12 before going on for the six point victory.
"We controlled the net early but after the intermission we went backwards," Stephenson said. "We had to grind out the rest of the match."
The grind for the fourth didn't come until mid-set as the Cougars came out on fire in route to a .448 attack in the set with an Ariana Taylor and two Oliveira kills getting Barton out to an 8-3 lead. Cloud County closed to within one behind four straight but the Cougars held firm on their lead as the teams battled back and forth with Barton not pulling away unitl late in the set. Following Taylor knocking down her third kill of the set, Conceicao buried a deep corner forcing Cloud to burn a timeout. Following a T-bird point on a Barton misfired attack, Conceicao again found the far corner but Cloud came right back with an attack off the Cougar block. From there it was the Oliveira show as the sophomore from Brazil put three kills in Barton's 4-1 match victory closeout.