Garden City claims five set victory over Butler

GCCC Sports Information Services
Garden City Community College's Victoria Gehret dives to the floor to dig an Independence serve Thursday at Perryman Athletic Complex.  GCCC defeated Butler on the road in five sets on Friday.

EL DORADO - You would be hard pressed to find a better volleyball match than what was on display at the Power Plant on Friday night.

Alli Meng tallied 18 kills, Tauja Durham chipped in 15, and Garden City Community College overcame a two-sets-to one-deficit to beat Butler 21-25, 27-25, 22-25, 25-22, 15-11. With the victory, the Broncbusters posted consecutive wins for the first time since Feb. 1 and 5 vs. Pratt and Lamar. They also jumped back into fourth place in the Jayhawk West.

Still, nothing came easy in this one.

The opening set was filled with jabs and right crosses. Trailing 17-13 following a rare Meng attack error, the Broncbusters turned to Durham and Reagan Karlin. The combo provided three straight kills before Karlin lasered a crosscourt spike that tied the set at 19. But the Grizzlies took command from there, scoring five of the next six points; then got some help from Meng when her serve landed out of bounds.

Garden City responded in the second. The Broncbusters broke open a 3-3 deadlock by utilizing a 12-5 run, which was fueled by Meng, who powered a kill through a double block and recorded a service ace to put the brown and gold up 16-8. But after a Butler timeout the Grizzlies came right back. Keera Parks crosscourt kill hugged the service line, Carly Clennan hammered down a spike, Mallory Cowman lofted one over the block, and Sydney Morrow found a soft spot in the Broncbuster middle, slicing the Garden City lead to 22-20. After Patrick Hiltz's team scored the next two, the Grizzlies responded with four straight polished off with Cowman's kill that evened things up. The Grizzlies even had a chance to bury the Broncbusters with set point following Morrow's service ace. They failed. With new life, Remi Vargas setup Karlin for a kill, then hooked up with Meng for a spike to put Garden City up one. That was followed by a Butler attack error that gave the road team the set.

It appeared however that all the positive momentum that Garden City established after that rollercoaster second set, was wiped away in the third. The Grizzlies turned a two-point deficit midway through the frame into a 24-22 advantage. That's when Cowman finished things off with a kill that curled just inside the right boundary.

It was a setback for sure, but Hiltz's bunch answered the bell again in the fourth. Meng tallied five kills in the frame including back-to-back successful attacks that forced a fifth and decisive set.

Garden City controlled the rest of the match.

Meng went to work again, plastering the back-left corner with a vicious spike, Karlin knocked a ball off of Cowman, and the Broncbusters had a 9-3 advantage. Butler managed to pull back to within three before Karlin added two more kills to get it to match point. That's when the brown and gold got some help from former Topeka High School star, Jaryn Benning, whose backrow attack landed out of bounds, giving Garden City their biggest statement win since snapping a 38-match losing streak to Hutchinson back on Jan. 25.

Vargas recorded 52 assists for the Broncbusters, her second largest total of the season behind the 56 she had in a five-set loss to Eastern Wyoming on Feb. 5. Karlin added 20 kills.

Benning had 19 kills and 28 digs for the Grizzlies, which lost for the second time in their last four matches. Jessie Nibarger added 26 assists.

Garden City was at Colby on Monday.