Photo by Andrew Carpenter, HutchCC Sports Information
By Ben Short
The Hutchinson Community College volleyball team faced off against the Cloud County Thunderbirds Wednesday in a 3-2, five-set thriller at the Sports Arena.
Despite early road blocks in the season, such as coach Delice Downing being quarantined in the opening week of the regular season, the Blue Dragons seem to have caught momentum early as they improved to 2-0 overall, 1-0 in the Jayhawk West.
When asked how important this opening conference win was, Downing said, “It is so important to see 1-0 instead of 0-1. It builds our confidence and it lets the conference know we are here and ready to go, it just starts the season off right.”
The night started off shaky as the Blue Dragons struggled to score but soon were up 16-11. They went on to win the first set 25-17.
After the Blue Dragons went on to win the second set 25-15, they dropped the third 25-19 and the fourth -25-19. They had their work cut out for them in the fifth set with the Thunderbirds catching fire. But the Blue Dragons finished up the task, winning the fifth and final set 15-11.
During Downing’s quarantine, the team seemed to keep on track with the coach’s plan.
“Their passing got so much better and our setters got more consistent with their offense,” Downing said. “It sucked so much being in quarantine, but I feel good and we had a few days before our conference game to come back and get the fire back and the girls were playing great so if you got ball control and our setters are running a good offense, we are all the way there”.
The Blue Dragons are young, but they have confidence in their freshman core, said sophomore middle blocker Kristina Head.
“The first few sets we were strong ,and then in the third set, we usually have a slump as you could see, but I’m proud of them because most of the team is freshmen, and to come back like that is tough.”
The freshmen stepped up into the spotlight in this matchup and made plays, some of the freshmen who led the charge were middle blocker Chloe Conway and setter McKinley Johnson.
The Blue Dragons have their next competition vs. Otero Junior College on Friday in McCook, Nebraska.