By Mike Pilosof
Garden City, KS-Broncbuster Head Coach Jacquelynne Matula has watched her team fight through growing pains in 2017. But one thing has remained consistent: her team never stops fighting.
Garden City hung with second-place Hutchinson before falling in three sets 17-25, 17-25 and 25-27 Monday night at the Perryman Sports Complex.
"I was really proud of our offense tonight," Matula said after the match. "We needed a little more out of our middles, and we would have been successful."
Garden City (3-16, 1-5) and Hutchinson (14-6, 7-1) exchanged points in the first few minutes as Abigail Skeeler terminated a kill to tie the first set at 3. They took their first lead at 6-5 on Harlee Davis's block at the net. But after the Blue Dragons evened the match at 11, the Broncbusters were held to just six points the rest of the frame, as an error, a kill by Page Hiebert and a service ace by Cassidy Crites pushed Hutchinson in front for good.
"We need to start faster and finish stronger," Matula said. "We didn't do that tonight."
In the second set, the Broncbusters kept it close, trailing by three early before making it a one-point match with back-to-back Hutchinson errors. Then Shaney Tiumalu's service ace tied it at 8.
Hutchinson took command from there.
The Blue Dragons scored five straight points, spearheaded by Hiebert's diagonal kill that fell just inside the right boundary for a 13-8 advantage. They never looked back, hanging on for an eight-point victory.
"We fought better in the first set," Matula said. "But I'm pleased with how they played in that third."
Garden City trailed 15-11 in the third set before fighting back to eventually take a 23-22 advantage. But the Blue Dragons never wilted, taking the lead back 24-23 on Tataya Ndekwe's kill.
"We pushed a really good team to the limit in that third set," Matula said. "We just need to finish."
The Broncbusters proceeded to fight off two set points; before Hiebert's kill finally ended match.
"It's the small things that we need to get better at," Matula said.
Bailey Martinez led the Broncbusters with 20 digs while Tiumalu had 15 kills and Maddie Park 17 assists.
Garden City is back in action Wednesday at Colby-6:30 p.m. match time.