Butler VB falls to Garden City in five sets

Lionel Tipton

EL DORADO—For Butler’s volleyball team, exhilaration turned to frustration in the span of just 24 hours.

The thrill of Thursday’s sweep of Dodge City was replaced Friday by a five-set loss to a Garden City team that got back to the .500 mark with the victory.

The performance left Grizzlies coach Lisa Lechtenberg perplexed.

“It was a big disappointment,” Lechtenberg said. “(It was a) completely different team. There was no energy, no communication, and we had a heck of a lot of errors.”

A prime illustration of this came during the pivotal fifth set, when a miscommunication between two Grizzlies resulted in the ball dropping between them, giving Garden City (10-10, 6-4) the ninth of 15 points needed to win the set and close out the match.

Butler (12-8, 7-6) seemed to lack much of the fire it had against Dodge City, and Lechtenberg agreed.

“Fire comes from communication and taking care of our side,” she said. “And we didn’t take care of our side enough.”

And the Grizzlies’ schedule doesn’t get any easier. They have to travel Monday to Liberal and face 10th-ranked Seward – a team that scored a sweep over the Grizzlies earlier at the Power Plant.

The Broncbusters, who Thursday swept Independence at home, came out and battled Butler tough during the first set, forging ahead 11-8 before the Grizzlies tied the score and took a 12-11 lead, never trailing after that in winning the set, 25-21. All told, there were nine ties in the set, so Garden City served notice it wouldn’t go quietly.

Garden City dominated the second set, leading by eight points on three occasions. But the Grizzlies, as they have done frequently, staged a comeback and caught the Broncbusters at 24-24. But Garden City inched ahead and took the set, 27-25. 

In the third set, Butler flexed its muscle, scoring 17 of its 25 points on kills. Jaryn Benning, one of the sophomores honored at Friday’s game, recorded seven kills in the period, which the Grizzlies closed out, 25-22.

In the fourth set, Garden City inched ahead from a 10-10 tie and led by two or three points until Butler tied the score at 21-21. But the Broncbusters again slightly inched ahead and won the set, 25-22. 

The fifth set was largely forgettable for Butler, which twice benefited when the ball hit the net and rolled over for a point. However, Garden City remained steady and took the deciding set, 15-11, twice leading by as many as five points.

“And that’s part of taking care of our side,” Lechtenberg said. “We weren’t taking care of our side. We had close to 30 errors just hitting errors, and we can’t win ballgames by giving somebody 30 points.”

It wasn’t the beset salute for sophomores Benning, Milayna Hollinger, Keera Parks, Sydney Hefty and Jessie Nibarger. 

“They’re a great group of sophomores,” Lechtenberg said. “They were actually our first recruiting class here between (assistant) coach (Tessa) Cosby and myself. They’re pretty special to us, and (losing this match) is definitely not it.”

The Grizzlies have just one home match left in the season, against Hutchinson on March 22.

With the nationally ranked Saints looming on Monday, Lechtenberg said the team just has to put this match behind it and focus on Seward. After that, the Grizzlies will have a brief spring break before resuming practice and preparing to face Hutch. The regular season ends March 25 at Garden City.

“It’s over, and we’re moving on,” she said.