By Joel Muhs / Staff Writer

Hutchinson Community College volleyball played their home opener on Jan. 28, and a couple of milestones were reached by the end of the night.

Delice Downing, first-year HutchCC volleyball coach, earned her first victory at the helm, as the Blue Dragons beat Pratt. Evening their record at 1-1 with that win, the Blue Dragons cruised to a sweep, 25-15, 25-16, and 25-20, over the Beavers, while extending their winning streak to 22 matches over Pratt.

The Blue Dragons hit .122, while holding the Beavers to .011 hitting for the match. Sophomore Jenna Thorne was the star for the Blue Dragons, as she led the team with nine kills and 12 digs, while also adding an ace. HutchCC also got strong contributions from the bench, as sophomores Myracle Lettries and Taegen Larsen came up with five kills apiece. The freshman also came up big with Kristina Head, Shadee Briggs and Shelby Murrell all producing three kills each.

Women’s basketball – The saying “You can’t win a game at the start, but you can lose it” proved right again, as the Hutchinson Community College women’s basketball team took off in the first 2 minutes and 18 seconds of its Saturday game against Neosho County.

HutchCC had Neosho County running rampant early on, as the Blue Dragons ran a variety of full-court presses that had the Panthers baffled. The full-court press led to four Blue Dragon steals and six turnovers in the first 2:18. The Blue Dragons, ranked No. 12 nationally, grabbed a double-figure lead 1:36 into the game and continued to keep their foot on the gas pedal en route to a 100-58 victory.

The win improved the Blue Dragons to 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the Jayhawk West. Neosho County falls to 1-3 overall and 0-2 in the Jayhawk East.

A season-high five Blue Dragons reached double-figure scoring, including Nafatoumata Haidara and K.K. Adams, as both went for 15 points and shared the scoring crown. HutchCC shot 45.8% overall, 39% from 3-point territory and 15 of 22 from the charity stripe. Neosho County was held to 33.3% shooting, 27.6% from 3-point range and 10 of 18 from the foul line.

Men’s basketball – The Blue Dragons recovered after their first loss of the season, with a 83-70 victory over Neosho County.

The Blue Dragons improved to 2-1 on the season and 43-5 all-time against Neosho County, while the Panthers fell to 2-2. Playing its first game without injured star Josh Baker (ankle), the Blue Dragons passed the test as several players stepped up with big performances. This included season-highs in points from Chris Robinson (22 points), Majok Kuath (19 points) and Isaiah Bujdoso (11 points). Matt Mayers posted his second double-double of the season with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

The Blue Dragons had trouble shaking the Panthers, as they only led by eight at halftime and by seven with 3:41 in the game, but ended on a 10-4 run. HutchCC shot 44.1% overall, 3 of 16 from 3-point range and 28 of 37 from the free-throw line. Neosho County was good for 36.1% shooting, 14 of 41 from three and made 4 of 7 foul shots.

Fans to make return – Hutchinson Community College fans will be able to fill the stands once again, but there are restrictions to the long-awaited news.

The Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference voted to let fans fill the seats again, but those seats can only be filled during league games. Only 25% of available seats can be taken, but the mandatory mask mandate will still be enforced.

Saturday will be the next opportunity for fans to watch the Blue Dragons, as the men and women’s basketball teams play host to Cloud County at the Sports Arena.

Baseball – The Blue Dragons dropped their first game of the season, as the Northern Oklahoma-Enid Jets scorched the four home runs in their 8-7 victory over HutchCC.

Down by three runs twice in the game, the Blue Dragons rallied throughout the game and even snatched a 6-4 lead in the top of the seventh, but the Jets responded immediately with a two-run bottom of the seventh to even the game at 6-6. HutchCC would never see the lead again, as NOC-Enid took an 8-6 lead into the ninth and held on for an 8-7 win.

Austin Callahan and P.J. Loucks combined to go 5 for 9 with four RBIs and one walk for the Blue Dragons. The Blue Dragons outhit the Jets 12-10, but HutchCC couldn’t come up with big hits at the right time, as they stranded 14 runners on base.

The Blue Dragons will take a week break before traveling to El Reno, Oklahoma to square off with the Redlands Cougars next Tuesday.

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