By BRETT MARSHALL
When Garden City High School volleyball coach Bob Schmitz scheduled Thursday night's quadrangular with two Class 4A schools — Ulysses and Pratt — and Western Athletic Conference rival Hays, and then added in Senior Night at The Garden, he could not have envisioned the way the evening would conclude.
Showing the continuing signs of inconsistency that has plagued the team the early weeks of the season, the Buffs opened with a three-set victory over Ulysses (25-16, 16-25, 25-11) before falling in consecutive three-set matches to Pratt (25-15, 12-25, 25-20) and Hays (25-20, 21-25, 25-15).
The roller-coaster performance proved to be a disappointment to senior Haley Harbour and three of her senior teammates who were honored by GCHS before the final two matches of the night. Other seniors recognized were Alexa Aldaco, Kaitlynn Munoz and Leeana Guerrero.
"We had hoped to go 3-0, so it is disappointing," said Harbour, a middle hitter for the Buffs. "We need to work on our emotions because it seems like we get so high and then so low when things don't go right for us."
It was evident Thursday that while the Buffs have much to work on, when they play at their higher levels, they are a tough team to match up with.
"When we stay in the moment, if we're on our game, we do really well," Harbour said. "We've got to work on some rotation problems, and we need to communicate better. What really killed us is that we'd get a side out and score only one point. You've got to get on some runs and score more points when you have that chance."
Each of the three matches was similar in some respect.
In the opener against Ulysses, the Buffs went on a 12-2 run at the end to close out the win after it was tied at 13-all. In the second set, Ulysses led throughout to win by nine points. In the finale, the Buffs led from start to finish.
Against Pratt, which boasted three players 6-0 or taller, the Buffs and Greenbacks were tied at 8 before Pratt went on a run to eventually pull away for the 25-15 win. In set two, it was the Buffs' turn to dominate, leading from start to finish for its 25-12 triumph. In the third and deciding set, Pratt opened with five straight points and was never behind. The Buffs fell 25-20.
Then it was Hays' turn to spoil the night for the Buffs. Schmitz is in his second year at the GCHS helm and prior to that he was both volleyball and girls basketball coach at Hays. This was the first time he has lost to his former school.
"It doesn't matter whether it was Senior Night or any other night, it just wasn't our night," Schmitz said. "It was frustrating for all of us. It just seems that when things happen, we don't handle it well. A couple of bad passes, hit it into the net, we've got to learn how to count to three and forget it and move on."
Schmitz said it wasn't a matter of effort. He was proud of how hard his team played.
"They played that way all the way to the end," Schmitz said. "They're a fun group to watch when things are going our way. Some of our problems has to do with the lack of experience in many ways, and we've just got to have some people step up and help us overcome those frustrations."
In the Hays match, the Buffs rallied from a 17-19 deficit to claim the second set 25-21. Then, as happened earlier, the Buffs were outscored 11-3 in the final set to fall to the Indians.
In other matches, Hays defeated Ulysses 25-17, 25-14 while Pratt rolled to a perfect night with victories over Hays (25-16, 25-13) and Ulysses (25-8, 25-14).
Now with a 6-7 record, the Buffs have a week to get ready for a road trip to Maize.