GCCC volleyball falls to Butler

GCCC Sports Information Services
Garden City Community College's Tauja Durham, center, drives the ball past Butler's Milayna Hollinger, left, and Mallory Cowman for a kill Thursday at Perryman Athletic Complex.

On Thursday night, Butler got a little payback in Garden City Community College’s home gym.

Jaryn Benning had 21 kills, Caitlyn Rexroat tallied 25 digs, and Butler avenged their loss to Garden City two weeks ago with a 25-18, 23-25, 25-16, 17-25, 11-15 victory at Conestoga Arena. It was the Broncbusters third straight loss and fifth in their last six matches.

"I don't think our defense was good after that third set," sophomore Angel Sherman said. "We just didn't find that energy to push through five complete sets."

On March 12, Butler and Garden City played in arguably one of the best volleyball matches of the season. And while Thursday's match didn't quite live up to that, it still came down to a fifth set, one in which the Grizzlies pulled away early and held on late.

"It was definitely a rollercoaster of emotions for us," opposite side hitter Pulelehua Keb said. "But we definitely played hard, and we fixed some stuff that coach wanted us to fix."

There were stretches in this match where Garden City looked flat out dominant and others where they appeared flat. In the first set, they broke a 10-10 tie with a 10-4 spurt that included two Keb blocks and a kill, and a nice setup from Victoria Gehret to Reagan Karlin that put the Broncbusters up 20-14. Following Angel Sherman's block, the Grizzlies ended the set with three straight attack errors.

"I know this team wants it," Keb said. "

The second set played out a bit differently. Butler erased an early 4-1 deficit; then used a 10-4 run of their own that was aided by Tauja Durham's attack error that put the Grizzlies up 18-12. Kayli Duncan added a block and a kill, and Butler had a seven-point edge. But the Broncbusters made things interesting, holding off six straight set points, pulling to one when Gehret dropped in a pretty ace. But Benning, who was spectacular in the team's first meeting two weeks ago, nailed a crosscourt kill, and the Grizzlies evened the match.

The Broncbusters responded in a big way in the third outscoring Butler 14-4 during a critical stretch. Karlin had a kill, Durham rejected a Butler attack, and Garden City had a 20-9 lead. Alli Meng followed with back-to-back spikes, Keb dropped one down the line; then finished off the set with a line-drive ace to put the home team up 2-1.

But the Grizzlies wiped away any momentum in the fourth, racing out to a 7-1 advantage. They built that to as many as 12 after Gehret's service error before finishing off the frame with Rexroat's kill.

The Broncbusters appeared gassed after that.

Milayna Hollinger's attack squeaked inside the tape on the sideline, Mallory Cowman tallied a kill, and Butler was up four in the fifth. Garden City did pull to within two late in the set, but the Grizzlies closed by scoring three out of the final four points

Reagan Karlin finished with 23 kills for Garden City, which finished the regular season 11-15 overall and 7-9 in conference. They will face Hutch in the opening round of the conference tournament on Thursday.