Lady Busters fall in 4 sets to Pratt.
By J. Levi Burnfin
The night just got progressively worse for the Garden City Community College volleyball team in their conference opener with Pratt on Wednesday night at the Dennis Perryman Athletic Complex.
After a back-and-forth first set ended with a Garden City win, the Pratt Lady Beavers "grinded" out the next three sets for a 3-1 conference win to open their season and conference schedule.
"We started out well and then (Pratt's) ability to grind and our inability to maintain efficiency kind of caught up with us," said first-year head coach Harvey Sanders.
The Lady Busters rode Dominque Mays' three-straight aces in the middle of the first set to take a one-point lead on their way to a 25-23 win. If that ace-streak was repeatable, Garden City looked to be in good position to start off 1-0 in the conference. Instead, it was Mays' fourth serve that went into the net for a Pratt point that seemed to repeat itself for the rest of the night.
"We would get on a point run and then miss our serve," Sanders said about the Lady Busters' inconsistent offensive attack. "That's kind of what happens."
Garden City had four different four-point runs during the match. But in all four, Pratt answered with their own run, chipping away at any lead Garden City mounted.
After the first-set, Pratt paced its way to a 25-18 win in the second to tie it at 1-1. In the third, Garden City used an early four-point run to lead almost the entire set. But Pratt just kept plugging along, never more than two points behind.
Taylor Winchester served up an ace to give the Lady Busters a 22-21 advantage and prime position to take a 2-1 set lead. But Pratt scored three points in a row before putting Garden City away 25-23 for its own 2-1 lead.
Pratt proceeded to dominate the fourth set, scoring nine of the first 11 points. Sanders tried different looks with his squad, rotating his middle hitters and outside hitters on the right side to utilize the best offensive-defensive matchups. It didn't work.
Garden City was never within striking distance for the rest of the set, falling 25-13, dropping the Lady Busters to 0-5 overall.
Garden City nearly had as many errors, 23, as they had kills, 30, in the match, a microcosm of their season so far. Several times a Lady Buster seemed to have a clear chance to score a point only to sail their attack past the back line.
It's something Sanders noted in the Lady Busters' first four matches of the season in Lamar, Colo., over the weekend. It was errors, he says, that cost them at least two of those matches.
"We need to be able to focus for a longer period of time, understand our jobs a little bit better and make smarter choices when we finish," he said after the match. "We're still trying to figure out our identity a little bit, and we don't really have anybody who steps up. We have some people who want to, but it's about actions, it's not about words."
The Lady Busters do not have another conference match until they travel to Cloud County on Wednesday. Before then, the Busters head to McCook, Neb., for a two-day tournament on Friday and Saturday. They face Southeast (Neb.) Community College and McCook Community College on Friday and Lamar (Colo.) Community College and Eastern Wyoming College on Saturday.
Lamar swept Garden City earlier this season on Friday.