Garden drops two matches to Seward

GCCC Sports Information Services
Garden City Community College's Remi Vargas makes a save to keep a point alive for the Broncbusters against Dodge City on March 18 at Perryman Athletic Complex.

LIBERAL -  After making a run to the National Championship game last year, Seward County has appeared a bit mortal this season. For proof of that, look no further than their 1-3 start. But since then, the Saints have won 17 out of 18, and they looked downright dominant on Tuesday night.

Seyun Park had 12 kills, Ariana Arciniega tallied 10, and the 10th-ranked Saints swept Garden City 6-25, 16-25, 21-25 at the Greenhouse. Seward County won their seventh straight match while the Broncbusters dropped their second in a row.  

And the Saints put on an offensive clinic in the opening set.

After Garden City scored the first two points, Seward County responded with 12 straight. Only Alli Meng's crosscourt kill ended the run. From there, the Saints made quick work of Patrick Hiltz's team. Park dropped in a pretty crosscourt kill, Arciniega slammed one down the middle, and Ileim Terrero blocked one at the net for a 21-5 advantage. The home team finished the frame by soring 4 out of the final five points punctuated by Gabriela Badilla's spike.

Following last night's loss, Hiltz's was adamant that his team needed to play with more energy. And in the second set they did, taking an 11-10 lead following a net violation called on Seward County. But Park's block and kill combination coupled with Terrero's nifty turnaround tip over and Brooke Katen's kill, fueled an 8-1 run that put the Saints up 18-12. Garden City never got closer than five the rest of the way, and Seward County scored the final three points of the set: one off of a Reagan Karlin attack error; the other two off of a Park kill and Grecia Soriano ace.

Early in the third, three straight Seward County attack errors kept the Broncbusters in it. But with the score tied at 7, Park loaded up and hit a fastball spike that landed just inside the left sideline, Alli Meng pushed an attack wide right, and Badilla added a kill to put the Saints up three. Katen chipped in a block, and Park dropped in her third ace of the night to stretch the lead to six. And after Garden City sliced the deficit to one on a beautiful Karlin kill, the Saints finally finished the road team off with a 4-1 run capped by Arciniega's attack.

Karlin finished with nine kills, and Meng had seven for Garden City in the losing effort.

On Monday in a home match, Garden City was thoroughly outplayed, losing a three-set decision to Seward County 9-25, 16-25, 21-25 at Conestoga Arena.

"We didn't look very excited to play Seward," Hiltz said afterwards. "There was no energy. I don't know what was going on, and I don't know where our energy went."

Right from the start, the Saints, who lost a five-set heartbreaker to Navarro in last year's National Championship Game, dominated. They raced out to a 13-3 lead following Alli Meng's attack error that sailed wide right, stretched that to 14 after a net violation on Garden City; then finished off the set with Ana Brangioni's service ace.

In the second, Reagan Karlin's spike landed a foot past the service line, putting Seward County up 8-2. Later in the frame, Gabriela Badilla fired a ball past Karlin down the left sideline, putting the Saints up 21-11. Once the Broncbusters trimmed the deficit to seven, the Saints scored the final two points of the stanza, capped off by Badilla's crosscourt kill that put the road team on top 2-0.

The Broncbusters did show some fight in the third, nearly erasing a late seven-point deficit thanks to a Karlin kill and a Seward County attack error that punctuated a 6-0 run that pulled Garden City within two, 23-21. But the Saints regained control when Ariana Arciniega sent a kill down the left sideline before Remi Vargas's passing error ended the match.

Karlin finished with seven kills for Garden City, which lost for the third time in their last four matches. Vargas chipped in 15 assists, and Angel Sherman had four blocks.

Garden City will host Butler at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.