Durham powers Broncbusters past Indy

GCCC Sports Information Services
Garden City Community College's Tauja Durham, right, celebrates making a kill for a point Thursday with teammates Angel Sherman and Remi Vargas, left, during a match against Independence at Perryman Athletic Complex.

It's been a challenging stretch for Patrick Hiltz's team over the past week, having endured five matches in eight days. But at the end of that winding road, Garden City Community College finally found its groove, making quick work of Independence.

Tauja Durham had 12 kills, Remi Vargas tallied 22 assists, and the Broncbusters rolled past Independence in three sets, 25-9, 25-18 and 25-23 Thursday night at Conestoga Arena.

"I think we've just come together as a team and figured it out," Durham said afterwards. "For us, it's all about improvement. We ask each other what we can do better the next time."

Garden City was better in all areas, snapping a season-long three-match losing streak and improving to 5-4 in conference play.

"We have a whole new team this year, so things have been challenging at times," sophomore Angel Sherman said. "But I keep telling them to just do what they know, and the rest will take care of itself."

It appeared that the Broncbusters got the message in the first set.

Garden City stormed out of the gates, scoring the first 10 points, which included a pair of Reagan Karlin kills and a Vargas to Durham exchange that had the Pirates in full retreat. And by the time Independence got their legs under them, they were down 20-8 following another Durham kill. Karlin added two more spikes, and the Pirates committed an attack error, giving the brown and gold the opening set.

"I'm really happy that we won," Durham added. "We have really been struggling since getting out of quarantine."

The Pirates kept things close early in the second set before a Karlin kill followed by Alli Meng's service ace, and Durham's earth-shaking crosscourt kill gave Garden City a 13-9 lead. Then it was Sherman dropping in a pair of efficient attacks, Vargas setup Durham again for a spike, and the Broncbusters were up 10.

"This was really good for us to get our rhythm back," Durham explained.

In the third, Independence, the one of only two winless team in the Jayhawk, muddied things up for Hiltz's squad, taking a 16-15 edge following a Garden City attack error. But the Pirates could never string consecutive solid possessions together. And with the set tied at 22, Independence committed a service miscue that was coupled with an attack error by Megan Strait. Eventually that led to match point where Emmah Sultz set up Meng perfectly for a game-ending kill.

Karlin finished the night with 13 kills for Garden City, which completed a season-sweep of the Pirates.

Garden City was at El Dorado on Friday, facing Butler.