By Mike Pilosof
McCook, Neb-Patrick Hiltz's coaching debut took a major turn in the first set of their season opener Thursday night.
Trailing by as many as 12 points, the Broncbusters rallied back, and when Adisyn Swan smashed a cross-court kill just inside the left sideline, Garden City had their first lead of the set. But the road team couldn't finish the deal, and McCook escaped, eventually taking down Hiltz's squad 25-27, 15-25 and 18-25.
"We passed pretty well, but our block wasn't as good as we needed it to be," Hiltz said afterwards. "We just made way too many hitting and service errors."
This match did not finish without controversy. After Garden City crawled back from a double-digit deficit in the opening frame, the Broncbusters were facing set point. After a short rally, McCook appeared to hit the ball out of bounds. The officials gave the point to Garden City, and the game was tied at 26. But after a short discussion, the referees overturned the call and awarded the point to McCook, saying a Broncbuster player touched the ball at the net.
"I didn't see a touch on that play," Hiltz said. "But that's not what cost us that set. There were so many other things that went wrong."
Digging themselves into a 16-4 bind didn't help. But the veteran Broncbusters showed resiliency, and took a 24-23 advantage. With set point on their side, Garden City committed one of 15 service errors on the night. The Indians took full advantage.
"Our hitters need to do a better job of understanding situations," Hiltz added. "We really shot ourselves in the foot with missed serves and poor hitting decisions that led to errors."
And that was the stat of the night. Garden City had just six aces compared to those 15 service errors. But Hiltz didn't seem overly concerned.
"We will get our hitting and serving under control," he said. "When we do, we will be able to push through."
In the second set, McCook turned a tie game into an early seven-point advantage. They built that lead to as many as 11 before a block into the net ended the frame.
"I thought Katie (McHugh) played really well," Hiltz said. "She set the offense beautifully."
In the third, Garden City stayed within four points for most of the set. But the Indians pulled away late, and Bailey Honn's kill ended the match.
Next up: Hesston College on Friday at 3 p.m. in the Mid-Plains Subway Invite in North Platte, Neb.