Inconsistent play and untimely errors doomed the Dodge City Community College Conquistadors volleyball team against Barton Monday night as the Conquistadors lost to the Grizzlies in straight sets by scores of 19-25, 18-25, 19-25.

The loss makes the Conquistadors 4-18 overall and 1-9 in Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference play.

In the first set, the Conquistadors kept it close through the first 15 or 16 points, but the Grizzlies pulled away in the middle. Facing set point at 24-16, the Conquistadors scored three straight points before eventually losing the set.

Dodge City kept it closer in the second, cutting a 17-14 lead to 17-16 before a Conquistador service error extended the Grizzlies’ lead to 18-16. Dodge City continued to fight, but eventually lost the set.

In set three, the Conqs again held it close into the middle of the set, but the Grizzlies pushed through in the end to close out the match.

“Barton’s a great team, they always have been too,” Conquistador head coach Rachel Williams said. “I, in my past, have recruited from Barton. I thought we did some really good things tonight. I thought we stayed with ‘em, I thought our kids kept fighting.”

At this point in the season, the sophomores are starting to play a little more freely and with fewer things inhibiting them, Williams said.

“They don’t really care about making mistakes or getting in trouble, they just kind of go after it,” Williams said. “It’s really kind of cool when you see your sophomores start to peel off those layers and get into that.”

Sophomore outside hitter Kate Warren did that well Monday night, Williams said, as did sophomore setter Gabriella Valdez, who gives it everything she’s got night-in and night-out.

“(We’re) just kind of waiting for those freshmen to bloom a little bit,” Williams said. “I think Destiny (Velasquez) kind of has her matches and then sometimes doesn’t. I think same thing for MaCayla (Courtney), both of our middles. Tori (Setzkorn) has come a long way and is learning a ton. It’s real interesting: Madi Spencer as a freshman has had to be our rock and has to be that kid that never comes off the floor.”

Overall, Williams said she thinks the team is learning some really good things.

“Staying with Barton tonight was a big step for us,” Williams said. “Again, I think we’ve got some matches ahead of us that we can win, that we can really do some good things.”

A key issue the Conquistadors have to fix is the frequency at which they commit untimely errors, specifically when serving.

Multiple times throughout Monday’s match, and also in previous matches, the team often hurt its own momentum by scoring a point or multiple points only to serve the ball into the net, giving the other team both the serve and a point.

“We’ve been talking this last week about inopportune errors,” Williams said. “Those compound errors that you get, or an error after either side reaches 20, or that misserve after a timeout. Those things really speak to a mature team and kids that have been playing the game for a long time.”

Williams said the team has squeezed about 10 seasons into two or three months trying to get better at those things, and she thinks it’s just a matter of time before the Conqs clean up those mistakes.

Dodge City travels to face Bethany College JV in Lindsborg Oct. 5 then Butler in El Dorado Oct. 6 before returning home to take on Seward County Oct. 8 in the Dodge City Community College Student Activity Center. That match is scheduled to start at 6 p.m.