By Mike Pilosof
Liberal, KS-The Broncbuster volleyball team has shown flashes of brilliance in their first nine matches. On Wednesday, Garden City once again had some highlight moments. But 11th-ranked Seward County looked like a well-oiled machine.
The Saints got jump started in the first set and never looked back, taking down their Jayhawk-rival in straight sets 12-25, 6-25 and 19-25 at the Greenhouse.
"It wasn't really the performance that we were looking for," Head Coach Jacquelynne Matula said afterwards. "We showed signs, but we are just not consistent enough."
Garden City found themselves in the match early on, trailing Seward County (6-0, 2-0) 5-4 in the opening frame. But the Saints got rolling, scoring the next four points, punctuated by Giovanna Tapigliani's ace that made it 9-4. That was the spark that the Lady Saints needed. Mariana Nascimento sent a powerful spike down the middle of the floor to push the lead to 10. That's when Matula finally called timeout.
"We keep the ball in play, but we have to terminate better," Matula said. "That's our biggest problem right now."
Garden City (2-7, 0-2) only scored five more points the rest of the way as Seward County closed the set on an 8-5 run. They finished the Broncbusters off with back-to-back kills by Luz Sierra right before the freshman sent a diagonal spike that landed just inside the right boundary for set point.
The second set almost seemed like a blur.
The Saints dominated from the get go, scoring the first four points, thanks to a momentum-swinging kill by Viviane Viana. A service ace; coupled with Garden City errors and a few net violations had the Broncbusters in a 16-2 hole. At one point, Seward County reeled off seven straight points, fueled by Nathiellen Machado's dig that set up a kill for a 19-4 advantage. Moments later, Kuntze's block at the net gave the Saints a 19-point, second-set victory.
"Our girls could have easily laid down after that second set," Matula said. "But I'm proud that they didn't. They played well to close it out."
Garden City, as they did in the first set, hung right with the nationally-ranked Saints. After falling behind 11-8, the Broncbusters rallied with three straight points to tie it. But that's where the set flipped. Nascimento terminated back-to-back kills helping stretch the Seward County lead to four. Even a Matula timeout did not stop the momentum, as the Saints advantage grew to 21-15. Garden City made things interesting late before the Saints put the match away for good.
"We need to play more like we did in that third set," Matula said. "That's what we were looking for all night."
Next up: Garden City's home opener on Thursday, Sept. 7 vs. Laramie at 5 p.m.