Lady Cougars season comes to an end at national championships

The Barton Community College volleyball team had their season come to an end Friday at the NJCAA Division I Volleyball National Tournament held at West Plains, Missouri.  The No. 14 seeded Lady Cougars lost for the second consecutive day as No. 11 Temple College defeated Barton 25-23, 25-17, and 25-22.  With the loss, the two-time Region VI Champions ends its season with a 29-14 record.

As been the case with the Lady Cougars at the national tournament, Barton found itself battling from behind as Temple built a five point advantage they maintained throughout most of the first set.  On the brink of defeat, the Lady Cougars battled back with four straight points highlighted by the play of sophomore Juliana Melo de Barros.  De Barros, who would have five kills in the match from her setter position, had back-to-back kills to start the run.  After a de Barros short serve forced the Temple defense to volley the return to Barton’s side of the net, de Barros set up sophomore Gabriela Oliveira for a kill to bring Barton to within two.  After a Temple timeout, another de Barros serve kept the Temple offense out of sync as the Leopard’s kill attempt sailed long to cut the score to one.  However the Barton rally came up a point short as Temple closed out the set on a deep corner kill as the Lady Cougar defense watched it clip the back line.

After falling behind 5-2 in the second set, Barton rallied to tie the score at 5.  Trading the next two points, Temple then went on a six point run to break open the set to lead 12-6.  The Lady Cougars cut the deficit to four at 11-7 but Temple would go on to score six of the next seven to stretch the lead to 22-13.  Barton was able to string together a pair of two point runs but it was not near enough as Temple went on to win the second set 25-17.

Needing a strong start to set three, Barton again dug an early hole as Temple grabbed leads of 4-1, 7-3, and 9-4.  The Lady Cougars got back into the match methodically stringing pairs of points to eventually even the set at twelve.  With Barton trailing 15-14 the Lady Cougars’ serving and receiving errors helped Temple build a three point cushion.  Barton would eventually tie the set again at 20 behind the strong middle play of freshman Paula da Silva and Taylor Littleton. 

“We did a much better job pushing the middle with a total of 18 kills coming from that position, 13 of which came from Paula,” said Barton Head Volleyball Coach Patrick Hall.  “But we struggled again on the outside, hitting only .050 and .000”

After three consecutive points by the Leopards, kills by da Silva and de Barros put Barton back in the hunt trailing 23-22.  After a Temple timeout, Barton saw its season come to an end on back-to-back net violations as the Leopards won the third set 25-22. 

“With only three missed serves and 59 digs we obviously did a better job today in those areas,” said Hall.  “We made some unusual mental errors late in two games and at this level you can ill afford those.  Being tied at 23 in set one and 22 in set three clearly showed this match was well within our grasp.”

For the match the team had a hitting percentage of .238, .117, and .200.  Region VI freshman and player of the year da Silva led Barton with thirteen kills while first-team Region VI setter de Barros had five kills to go along with twenty four assists.  Sophomores Oliveira and region honorable mention Taylor Arnold had four kills each.  Sophomore Giselle de Moura led the Lady Cougar defense with seventeen digs while Oliveira had twelve. 

During the regular season, the Lady Cougars dominated the Jayhawk Conference by winning 41 of 48 sets played enroute to a 13-1 conference record.  Barton then won 14 of 18 sets to capture its second straight Region VI title and national tournament appearance.  Overall the Lady Cougars’ only losses during the season came to either ranked, previously ranked, or those who had received or are receiving votes in the national poll.

“We feel very good about having achieved two of our top three goals of winning the conference and repeating as region champions,” Hall said.  “Of course we also wanted to make a deeper run at nationals, but sports repeatedly provides us with opportunities to look forward.  I assure you that we are already looking forward to playing the next point of the 2012 season.”

Released:  November 19, 2011

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