Garden City, KS-Going into Wednesday's showdown with Barton County, the Broncbusters had not lost back-to-back games in nearly a month.
But after a strong start in the first set, the Cougars stormed back to take the next three, winning in four 25-20, 20-25, 18-25 and 15-25 at Conestoga Arena.
With the loss, Garden City (10-21, 6-9) will be the No. 6 seed out of the west in the region tournament.
"We just came out really flat tonight," Garden City Coach Jacquelynne Matula said afterwards. "We took care of business in the first set, but then we got comfortable."
The Broncbusters dominated the first frame. And even when Barton County (18-13, 8-8) fought off back-to-back set points, Garden City never wilted, and eventually finished off the Cougars with Abigail Skeeler's crosscourt kill.
"We were very focused in that first set," Matula said.
The next three was not exactly what the third-year coach had in mind with playoff positioning on the line.
Garden City faced an uphill climb the majority of the second set, but eventually came back from a five-point deficit to tie the match at 19. That's as close as they got as the Cougars close the stanza on a 6-1 run punctuated by Brittany Ostmeyer's service ace.
"We made way too many mistakes," Matula said. "We were kind of all over the place."
An evenly played third set turned into a runaway as Barton County built a late six-point advantage and Carolina Goncalves' spike put the Cougars up two games to one.
"We were too flat tonight, and we're going to learn from it," Matula said.
Once Garden City pulled to with three in the fourth set, the Cougars went on a 7-point service run, building their lead to 22-12. They never looked back.
"The key thing is that these girls learn from it," Matula said. "We've got another match on Friday."
Shaney Tiamulu led the Broncbusters with 10 kills while Maddie Park had 20 assists and 12 digs.
Next up: Garden City vs. Colby-Friday at 6:30 p.m.