Garden City, KS-In 2016, the Garden City women's volleyball team has taken their fair share of lumps.
Monday night at the Perryman Athletic Complex was no different.
The brown and gold could not hold a 10-point lead in the fourth set, as Cloud County stormed back to stun Garden City in five 26-24, 23-25, 25-9, 23-25 and 8-15.
"We have to learn how to finish," Head Coach Jacquelynne Matula said afterwards. "I know the girls really wanted this."
But the match was lost in that critical fourth set.
Garden City (3-16, 1-6) built a 19-9 lead before completely collapsing. The Thunderbirds stormed back, and Elizabeth Nobert's kill brought Cloud County (9-8, 3-2) to within three.
"They just kept coming," Matula said. "We didn't have much left in the tank."
Bailey Lewis's block tied the set at 23 before Drew Mann ended it with a perfect push shot into the middle of the Broncbuster attack that fell between four Garden City players.
"That was definitely the turning point," Matula said of that fourth set. "We should have won this match."
The final frame was a mere formaility.
After Garden City fought back to tie it at 5, Cloud County reeled off seven straight points to take a 12-5 lead.
But the Broncbusters never got any closer than six points after that, and Nobert's kill completed an unbelievable comeback.
"It should have never gone five," Matula said. "We were in firm control."
A big reason for the early control was Megan Besecker.
The freshman was sensational in the first set. It was her back-to-back kills that closed out the Thunderbirds 26-24, and gave Garden City a 1-0 lead.
Cloud County fought back in the second.
Once Garden City tied it at 16 when Allyson Knoll powered a shot that landed just inside the line, the Thunderbirds seized control, taking a 24-22 advantage before Matula called timeout. Then Irem Bat's blast evened the match 1-1.
The Broncbusters then turned the third set into a laugher. Matula's squad raced out to a 12-4 advantage and eventually coasted to a 16-point victory.
That momentum carried into the fourth set, before Cloud County made their move.
Garden City has lost 10 matches in a row. They are back home Thursday against Trinidad State.