LADY DRAGONS WIN REGION VI AFTER ANOTHER 5-SET THRILLER OVER BARTONNovember 5, 2012
HCC Sports Information
\WICHITA – After being dominated for two sets like it hadn’t before this season, the Hutchinson Community College volleyball team looks as if it would be forced to play a second and decisive Region VI championship match on Sunday at Newman University.
Then Shayne Haley came to the rescue.
The sophomore outside hitter from Katy, Texas, pounded down eight of her 10 kills in the fourth and fifth sets as the No. 16 Lady Dragons captured the program’s sixth Region VI Tournament championship in team history with a 25-23, 19-25, 14-25, 25-19, 15-10 victory over the Barton Cougars.
Hutchinson (27-8) returns to the NJCAA Division I National Volleyball Tournament for the first time since 2009. Pairings will be released on Tuesday for the championship, which will be Nov. 15-17 at the West Plains Civic Center in West Plains, Mo.
“I am so proud of the first for having to pull out two five-setters against Barton,” first-year HCC head coach Patrick Hall said. “Especially this one after being beaten in that third set about as badly as we have been all year. We played so tentatively and then to turn it around like that and decide to show up and pull of that win.”
One day after having to rally from a 2-1 deficit against Barton, the 2012 Jayhawk West champion Lady Dragons found themselves in the same situation in the championship match on Sunday. Barton (15-20), which defeated Garden City in four sets earlier on Sunday in the loser’ bracket final, had to defeat HCC twice to repeat as Region VI champions.
The Cougars looked to be on their way to the first victory after a stretch where they outscored HCC 55-34 in building a 2-1 match lead. Through three sets, HCC’s outside and opposite hitters had a combined 12 kills, while the Barton trio of Jori Mote, MacKenzie Orchard and Taylor Littleton owned the net. Those three players combined for 38 kills and 10 blocks.
With the only real offense through the first three sets coming from middles Gabby Rushton and Megan Heier, Haley came to life with two kills during a 8-1 HCC run that helped the Lady Dragons rally from a one-point deficit to a 17-11 lead. Hutchinson scored 5 of the final six points to win the fourth set.
The Lady Dragons finally got the offense going in the fifth set as Haley had four kills, while Rushton and Teresa Wade had three each. With the set tied 8-all, HCC finished off the Cougars with a 7-2 to punch their ticket to West Plains.
“I knew I wasn’t playing my best,” Haley said. “I wanted to go to nationals to bad, I started hitting shots Coach tells us to use and they really work. This is so exciting.”
Added Hall: “In the huddle before the fourth set we told the girls to start swinging big and Shayne really did that.”
Rushton pounded down a career-high 14 kills to lead the Lady Dragons offensively. Her five-kill/two-block effort in the first set gave HCC an early advantage.
“It seemed like we were fighting ourselves instead of just playing the game,” Rushton said. “We didn’t want to lose. We had desire so we stepped up and played.”
Wade finished with 11 kills and nine digs. Five of Wade’s kills came in the final two sets. Heier hit .600 with seven kills and she had two service aces.
Sophomore libero Samantha Lackey was busy as she tied for the second-most digs ever in a match with 31 digs. During the Region VI Tournament, Lackey set a freshman record for digs. She has 571 digs for the season.
Sophomore setter Scout Heizer posted her eighth double-double of the season with 26 assists and 10 digs to go with three kills and an ace. Sophomore setter Ashlyn Westerman had 18 assists and nine digs. She tied a season high with three of HCC’s nine service aces.
“There have been a lot of pieces to this puzzle this year,” Hall said. “It’s nice to have options when you are struggling.
“Kayla (Karmazyn) has come off the bench and has had some huge performances for us. Emily (Oberlin) came in this weekend and played the right side after not playing there all year. We’ve had a great bench all year that has helped us out and that’s why I explored so many options is because we have those options.”
Barton out-hit Hutchinson 58-51 and out-blocked the Lady Dragons 11-6.
Mote had 14 kills, only three in the final two sets, to lead Barton. Orchard had 12 kills and three blocks, while Littleton had 12 kills and seven blocks. Isabel Valdez had nine kills and four blocks.
Hutchinson opened the match with a 7-2 run, but Barton went on a 9-4 run to tie the set at 11-all. Barton then built a 16-14 lead, but a Heier Hill and back-to-back Westerman aces started a 6-1 run to lead 20-17. That lead grew to 24-18, but HCC had trouble salting away the first set. Barton started that 55-34 run fighting off four-straight set points before a Rushton/Jade Nelson double block on set point gave HCC the opening set 25-23.
The second set was a set of four-point runs. Barton had fourth and HCC had two. After a Nelson solo stuff capped HCC’s second four-point run and gave it a 10-9 lead, the Cougars responded immediately as Littleton had a block and kill in a 4-0 run to give Barton a 13-10 lead. Littleton became a force with six kills and five blocks in the set for Barton. A Middleton solo block capped Barton’s fourth four-point run for a 17-13 Cougar lead. She had another block and two kills during a set-ending 6-3 run. HCC had just six kills in the second set.
The third set was all Barton as HCC’s passing was off and attacks were tentative. Barton built leads of 9-6, 11-7 and 16-10. A Wade kills cut the Cougar lead to 20-14, but Barton scored the final five to win the set and draw within one set victory from a second championship match.
In addition to Haley’s fourth-set heroics, the Lady Dragons also got key contributions from Heier, Lackey and freshman Mariah Dickson. Heier had three kills in the fourth set, none bigger than the much-needed sideout after Barton had pulled within 17-14. With HCC leading 19-16, Dickson had a kills and then picked up a huge solo block for a 21-17 lead. Lackey had two of HCC’s three aces in the final set. Haley pegged a kill down the line for set point and to forced a fifth and decisive set.
“We were motivated that we were not going to lose this,” Wade said. “If we would have lost, we would have been done. The sophomores would have played their last match for Hutch and we weren’t going to let that happen.”
Barton scored the first two points of the fifth set, but a Heizer dump started a 4-0 HCC run. The fifth set was tied at 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8. Wade had a perfect tip and then big kills to lead 10-8. A Valdez kill pulled Barton within 11-10, but Rushton converted a pair of quicks for kills and led 14-10. Barton hit a roll shot into the net on match point to end it.
MATCH NOTES – This was Hutchinson’s 10th all-time appearance in a Region VI championship match. HCC is 6-4 in regional title matches. … HCC is 6-4 in five-set matches this season, winning the last four. … HCC is 5-2 vs. Barton in five-set matches. … The Lady Dragons are 2-4 vs. Barton in Region VI championship-meetings. … Samantha Lackey tied Jasmine Sherrill (2011) for second on the single-game digs list. Mariana Blue has the record with 33. … Lackey is now No. 3 on the HCC single-season digs list with 571. She trailed Mariana Blum (2005, 731) and KeAnne Langford (2007, 611).