The ceiling can’t hold the expectations for the McPherson High volleyball and boys soccer teams.
Anticipation is through the roof for both teams and to be honest, volleyball coach Christy Doile and boys soccer coach Chris Adrian have teams that, if they play up to their vast potential, could be playing on the final Saturday of the season.
Doile’s volleyball team was the top public school in Class 4A Division I last year as private school powers Miege and Topeka Hayden finished 1-2, with the Bullpups taking third.
Adrian’s boys soccer team, which was supposed to be in a rebuilding year, came within one victory of making the Final Four even though it started just one senior.
Doile has established a standard of excellence at MHS and it’s hard to believe she’s already entering her 10th year as head coach. The Bullpups were 36-8 in 2014, 38-4 in 2013, 42-5 in 2012 and 44-3 in 2011. If the math I learned as a youngster is correct, that’s a 160-20 record over the last four years for a nifty 89 percent. In other words, each time the Bullpups take the court they do so with the confidence that they’re the best team on the floor.
I’ve watched a couple of practices and the Bullpups certainly have the necessary components to maintain their lofty status. Megan Pedersen is a tremendous force and Magan Alexander is right behind her. Addie Simon, Ashtyn Schieferecke, Katlyn Ruth and Rachel Dossett are other regulars back and it will be hard to keep Mandi Cooks out of the lineup.
“I'd have to say we should be better at blocking this year,” said Doile, who will pretty much have a skyline on the floor at all times. “We are making it hard on our own hitters. Cooks, Dossett, Pedersen, (Sydney) Mossman and Alexander are pretty good at penetrating the net.”
Doile said the emphasis to be ready at the start of the season has been ramped up because the Bullpups’ first match is against longtime Class 5A power Newton at Hutchinson. The Bullpups will find out right away where they stand as the Railers have been state regulars.
“We play Newton right out of the gate, so that naturally raises the expectations or intensity level of practice,” Doile said. “Newton has a very solid team this season.”
This should be one of Doile’s deepest teams as even with so much experience back, some youngsters are making their presence known. Aislinn Hughes and Jaycee Burghart (just a freshman) have caused Doile to take a second look.
As always with any volleyball team, it comes down to passing. If Doile’s setters can consistently get the ball to their hitters on the mark, the wins should pile up.
As for Adrian, the only starter he has to replace is Ethan VanDorn. Nine of his returnees earned some type of postseason honors, led by All-Stater Andric McGill, who also was first-team AVCTL along with Jamison Stout and Patrick Munsey.
“I’m excited,” Adrian said. “With so many kids returning from last year’s varsity side, I really feel like we are continuing from where we left off.”
Adrian believes last year’s disappointment of just missing the Final Four is fueling the team.
“The energy and intensity the boys are bringing to practice is great,” he said. “They worked hard all summer, which is allowed me to cover things in the second and third day of practice that I typically don’t get to until the second week. My top 11 or so players are the ones that have really impressed me during the first couple days. I see a hunger there and maturity that I did not see last year.”
The Bullpups open Sept. 1 with a home game against Mulvane and then host Hays on Sept. 3, which is unfortunate since that’s its opponent for the first round of the Maize South Invitational the following week.