Lady Buster Volleyball, Soccer continue early season struggles
By J. LEVI BURNFIN
Just barely more than 12 hours after earning a much needed straight-set victory over McCook (Neb.) Community College — the Lady Busters' first win — Garden City Community College dropped two matches in a combined six sets on Saturday morning during the second day of the McCook Tournament.
The Lady Busters first lost to Lamar (Colo.) — 25-21, 25-16, 29-27 — then dropped their next match against Eastern Wyoming — 25-14, 26-24, 25-14 — in a span of four hours, dropping their season record to 1-8.
"We never really woke up," said coach Harvey Sanders.
The Lady Busters had split a pair of matches on Friday night and left Sanders optimistic about his team's progress. They had improved markedly in the week heading into the tournament, Sanders said, and he was expecting that to continue Saturday morning.
However, some off the court circumstances may have gotten in the way.
"We ended up staying in Norton, so we had a one-hour drive before our day started and then we played two early matches and never really got to a place where we could be successful," said Sanders.
The Lady Busters took several steps back, finishing with a .103 hitting efficiency percentage against Lamar and then dropping to .064 against Eastern Wyoming. But it wasn't any more concerning than any other loss to Sanders.
"I'm not too worried about it because we don't play (two matches in two days) again," he said. "Everything that matters is one shot of being really good so we're just thinking if we can perform in a single event better, that's kind of what we're shooting for."
However, Sanders was concerned that the amount of errors the team is committing has not dropped significantly over its first nine matches of their season.
On Saturday, the Lady Busters had nine aces, but paired that with 14 service errors. Hopefully, Sanders said, the second phase of practice he plans to implement now will help with that aspect.
Phase one, Sanders explained, is focused almost entirely on individual skill, leaving out much of the team dynamic. However, phase two that the team will be entering in practice this week cuts back on individual skill periods and attempts to refine the team game, including cutting down on the errors.
The Lady Busters' next chance to cut down on their errors is at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday at Cloud County in a conference matchup. The Lady Thunderbirds are 1-4 overall on the season and 0-1 in conference after falling to Seward County on Aug. 28. Cloud County was picked to finish sixth in the KJCCC in the preseason.
Despite the Lady Busters' second loss in as many tries, interim head coach Hector Martinez sees signs of improvement for a team he has only coached for two weeks.
Garden City Community College lost to Jayhawk Conference opponent Neosho County on Saturday, 4-1, dropping to 0-2 in conference and for the season.
The Lady Busters scored early in the match and held the lead for nearly 25 minutes into the first half. That's a very positive sign, Martinez said.
Sophomore Deydi Depaz gave the Lady Busters their first lead of the season, finding the back of the net in the fifth minute. It was a lead they defended for more than 20 minutes. But they fell out of formation for just a split second and the Lady Panthers capitalized, knotting the score at one.
The Lady Busters fell behind late in the first half as freshman goalkeeper Danielle Puente was beat on a Lady Panther free kick that skirted inside the post from 45 yards out. That gave Neosho County a lead it would not relinquish.
Still, it was a step in the right direction for a squad that won only a single match last season and were without a coach only days before the start of this season when former coach Ki Thornberry resigned.
"In this game, I started a team that identified how we are going to be able to play," said Martinez, noting that he found a lineup and formation he feels they can be successful with. "We can do this. And they're learning more their positions.
"That's what I need to do is develop those positions. They have the passion. They just have to learn how I want them to play."
The Lady Busters will christen the college's new athletic facility on Wednesday with their home opener at 6 p.m. against Dodge City.
The Lady Conquistadors are 1-2 and it will be their conference opener.