By Mike Pilosof
Garden City, KS-While their record may not show it, Garden City is hoping to be a serious threat come postseason time.
Wednesday night was another step forward in accomplishing that goal.
Shaney Tiamulu recorded 13 kills, Maddie Park added 21 assists, and the Broncbusters knocked off fourth-place Butler 26-24, 25-19, 25-19 Wednesday night at the Perryman Athletic Complex.
"If we keep serving the way we served, and playing the way we are capable of, we will be pretty good," Head Coach Jacquelynne Matula said after the match.
The first set was a prime example of that.
After the Grizzlies fought back to take an 18-15 lead, Matula called a timeout.
"I'm really proud of how the girls responded in this one," Matula said. "That's where we've shown the most growth."
Butler followed with a service error; Tiamulu terminated back-to-back kills and Ashley Brown found a soft spot in the middle of the Grizzlies defense to even the set at 19. Butler countered with back-to-back points to surge in front by two before Morgan Gray's sensational dig was capped with Brown's emphatic kill. Davis added another spike, and the stanza was tied again at 22.
"You can see things slowly developing all season," Matula said. "But I've said this all along: we have to be more consistent in the way we finish sets."
Four times late in the opening set, Garden City (6-18, 3-6) fell behind. All four times they bounced back, taking the lead on an errantly hit ball hit by Butler that landed five feet out of bounds. Once the Grizzlies tied it, Brown pulverized a ball down the middle before Abigail Skeeler's left-handed kill gave the brown and gold a two-point victory.
"We took it to them in that first set," Matula said.
It set the tone for the rest of the match.
The Broncbusters blitzed the Grizzlies with five straight points to open the second. Once Butler sliced the lead to two, it was all Garden City from there, building their lead to as many as eight points.
"It was a nice carryover effect," Matula said.
Even when Butler (16-7, 6-4) narrowed the deficit to five, Bailey Martinez scooped a ball off the floor before Brown's kill punctuated set point.
"This is what we've been building towards all season," Matula said. "But that first set carried us through this match."
The third set was a mere formality.
Tiamulu's block and kill followed by a Butler error put the Broncbusters in front 20-14. Then it was Davis spiking a ball hard down the middle of the floor giving Garden City their first match point. After Butler scored, Tijana Simovic's swat at the net eventually put the Grizzlies away for good.
"These girls did exactly what they were capable of," Matula said. "Now we have to build off of this."
Next up: Garden City vs. Seward County-Saturday, October 7-2 p.m. It will be the first match at new Conestoga Arena.