Buffalo volleyball falls to Liberal

GCHS Athletics
Garden City High School's Taylor Mesa, right, digs an Ulysses serve as Jesy Foster looks on during a volleyball match Oct. 7 at GCHS.

LIBERAL - There was one more final opportunity for the Garden City High School volleyball team to tune-up for the Saturday Western Athletic Conference championship at Hays.

That came Tuesday night when the Buffaloes traveled to Liberal to face a familiar WAC opponent in the Reds, a team that they had split two previous matches with during the 2021 season.

In this instance, though, the Buffs came up short in the 3-of-5 set match, falling to Liberal in straight sets, 25-23, 25-19, 25-21. In dropped the Buffs to a record of 12-18 while Liberal, which began the season at 0-10, now stands at 15-14.

On Saturday, GCHS Coach Trista Bailey’s youthful squad will attempt to extend the school’s 10-year WAC championship winning streak in the round-robin tourney in Hays. Not since the pre-2010 season has any other WAC team brought home the volleyball crown.

This season, the Buffs are 0-1 against Hays and Great Bend each, 1-0 against Dodge City and 1-2 against Liberal.

In the Tuesday three-setter, freshman Piper Harris led the team in kills with 12 and Makenzie Lucas added seven. Only three service aces, all from different players, were delivered by the Buffs. 

Mya Delacruz continued her strong setting performance with 26 assists and senior Jesykah Foster paced the team with 12 digs. Lucas had three of the team’s blocks at the net.

Despite the setback, Bailey said her team played some of its best volleyball of the season.

“Our serve-receive was as strong as its ever been this season,” Bailey said, “so that is encouraging that our kids are getting better in the back row.”

Bailey said that Harris and Lucas continued to be the leaders on offense.

“They continue to mix things up and find ways to score against a scrappy Liberal defense,” Bailey said.

Like any coach, Bailey would have preferred to head home with a W rather than the loss.

“Of course we wanted to get out of there with a win as we head into the WAC tournament this weekend,” Bailey said. “But, unfortunately, we didn’t get it done. But our kids didn’t quit and that’s all we can ask – that they keep getting better and that they don’t give up.”

With the prospect of the team’s first losing record in more than a decade with an all-new and youthful starting lineup and reserves, Bailey still remains positive about the team’s prospect for the weekend and the following week when they compete in the 6A sub-state.

“We’ve definitely had our share of growing pains,” she said. “And it’s really tough to swallow, but I’m still a believer in these kids. We still have our best volleyball in front of us.”