Liberal, KS-No one can argue this: What Jacque Matula has built in three years at Garden City is definitely trending upwards, even if her team fell short of their ultimate goal.
Tatyana Ndekwe had 11 kills and three blocks, Paige Hiebert added 12 kills, and Hutchinson beat Garden City 25-13, 25-18 and 25-15 in the Region VI semifinals Sunday afternoon at the Green House.
"It's not the result we had in mind, but I'm so proud of how we finished the season," Matula said afterwards. "They were very strong."
The Broncbusters finished the season at 12-22, but the final record does not tell the real story. Garden City won nine out of their 14 matches including a dominating 3-0 victory over heavily-favored Butler in the Region VI quarterfinals on Wednesday. This all came after dropping 14 out of their first 16 games of the season.
"We learned so much going through the process," Matula said. "There is a lot to be proud of."
On Sunday, Garden City hung with Hutchinson, who ended up knocking off third-ranked Seward County in the region final. But after the Broncbusters trimmed the Hutchinson lead to 9-7 in the first set, the Blue Dragons went on an 8-0 run and eventually scored nine of the next 12 points to build an 18-10 advantage. Nina Pelvic then added three straight kills to close out the opening frame.
"There were things we could have done better, but give Hutchinson credit," Matula said.
The Blue Dragons, who won for the sixth time in their last seven matches, set the tempo in the second set, scoring the first four points. They built their lead to seven late in the frame thanks to Hiebert's 10th kill, then Katie Jorn terminated a spike down the middle for set point and a 2-0 advantage.
"Our team was so much better in the second half of the season," Matula explained. "Now we can build off of that."
The Blue Dragons scored 15 of the first 20 points in the third stanza. Garden City rallied back, but could never get closer than nine before Ndekwe's crosscourt kill ended the match.
Even with the loss, Garden City enjoyed their most success in a half decade, winning their first postseason match since 2012.