Patrick Hiltz has revitalized a once struggling program. And despite some sloppy play on Wednesday, Garden City stormed back to win again.
Katarina Vojvodic and Angel Sherman combined for 33 kills, Katie McHugh added 33 assists, and Garden City overcame a 2-1 deficit to beat Pratt in five sets (22-25, 25-20, 20-25, 25-23, 15-12).
It was their fourth victory in their last five matches.
"It's a sign of a good team when you can win without playing your best," Hiltz said. "I don't think any of the girls would argue that it wasn't our best effort. I'm proud of the girls for refusing not to quit tonight."
Garden City trailed for a good portion of the opening set. A hitting error by Summer Nerkowski and back-to-back Pratt kills put the Beavers up 9-3. They pushed that lead to as many as 12 before Hiltz called a timeout. That appeared to rejuvenate the Broncbusters, who pulled within 23-21 following a pair of kills by Vojvodic and Nerkowski. But Garden City didn't get any closer, and an error finished off the set.
The Broncbusters fell down again early in the second set. But a 10-5 run, polished off with a McHugh tap and a Vojvodic kill gave the Broncbusters a 16-1 lead. They extended that to as many as six on a block by Meosha Erving before Sherman's kill evened up the match.
"We didn't play our best and found a way," Hiltz said. "It's hard to explain it."
Errors doomed Garden City in the third as the Beavers, after a Morgan Scrag kill, built a 19-9 cushion. Garden City trimmed the deficit to three before Pratt tallied the final two points to take the set.
"I don't think we used our middles enough tonight, and that made it difficult on us," Hiltz said.
The Broncbusters answered the bell in the fourth. They dug out of an early four-point hole to even the match at two once Haylee Parker's serve went sailing out of bounds. A pair of kills by Vojvodic and Sheridan Rodriguez, coupled with a spike by Erving and Sherman, evened things up at 19. Then, trailing 21-19, Vojvodic imposed her will, sending an emphatic cross court kill that landed inches inside the line. Nerkowski followed with another point, and Pratt committed an error, pushing the match to a fifth set.
"Summer was fantastic on defense for us," Hiltz said. "As a team, we were relentless on defense. 96 digs is pretty darn good."
Garden City owned the early stages of the final set.
The Broncbusters scored 10 of the first 12 points to start the set. The Beavers responded with an 8-1 run to make it a one-point contest. Garden City steadied the ship, and a service error by the Beavers and a Broncbuster kill set them up for match point. That's when Sherman finished it off, powering a spike down the middle to give the home team a dramatic, come-from-behind victory.
"There were so many long rallies tonight," Hiltz added. "Both teams were exhausted."
Alexandra Jackson led the way with 24 digs, Nerkowski added 21, and Vojvodic had 20.
The Broncbusters, 3-2 in conference play and 5-17 overall, will travel to Colby on Saturday for a 2 p.m. match.