During “State Week,” McPherson High volleyball coach Christy Doile usually spends the first couple of days frantically making phone calls and running down scouting reports on the three teams in the Bullpups’ pool.
This year, Doile’s task was made much simpler. When the Bullpups play Wellington, Andale and Tonganoxie on Friday at Salina’s Bicentennial Center in Class 4A Division I pool play, it will be the second match this year against Wellington and the third against Andale. Only Tongie will be a first-time opponent.
Action for MHS begins at 8:30 a.m. with a rise-and-shine match against No. 8 seed Wellington. The Bullpups are 34-7 and the No. 1 seed while the Crusaders are 19-17 and considered the longest of long shots.
MHS then plays at 10:30 against 28-13 Andale, with the final match at 1:30 against 27-11 Tonganoxie.
Wellington is a team the Bullpups routed 25-16, 25-18 last month.
“I've heard that Wellington is making its first trip to state in school history,” said Doile, whose team is an old hand at this as it marks six straight years at the Big Dance. “Last time we played them they pushed us a bit in a set, we were not putting our best effort out every serve. They were putting their full effort in every serve, swinging, keeping the ball in and serving tough. We had several hitting, serving and receive errors. They are well coached and we need to keep them out of system.”
The Bullpups have gone 2-0 against Andale, including a three-set victory in the Newton Invitational. MHS was much more dominant when the teams met in triangular action at the Roundhouse.
“Andale didn't play their best at our tri at home and they gave us a better shot at the Newton tourney,” Doile said. “We are working on defending their offense and getting our block in a better position.”
Tonganoxie is the X-factor since the Bullpups haven’t seen it, but this match could be more what the Bullpups do themselves and not so much was Tonganoxie does.
“They will run more slides than we normally see from their middles and a fast gap,” Doile said.
MHS certainly appears to have received a favorable draw, which should be the case since it’s the No. 1 seed. Top-ranked and defending champion Miege (27-11) is the overall No. 3 seed, and it plays big-time competition in both Kansas and Missouri. MHS also is away from Louisburg (28-10), a team it has some history with at the Bicentennial Center as the Bullpups won the third-place match between the teams last year and in another year it was Louisburg that kept MHS from making the Final Four. Chanute (26-14) has been a state regular, while Andover Central (22-19) plays among the toughest schedules of all the teams in the field.
The Bullpups certainly have the firepower to make a deep run. Megan Pedersen and Magan Alexander could both be first-team All-State picks, with Pedersen going to Washburn next year and Alexander to Fort Hays State.
The Bullpups have plenty of other weapons at the net in Mandi Cooks, Rachel Dossett and Katlyn Ruth. Ashtyn Schieferecke is one of the team’s most versatile players, while Addie Simon and Brooke Schrag are counted on for their passing and defense.
Doile says the Bullpups’ game plan is simple.
“Best effort every serve, execute our plays, make adjustments quickly, handle the other team's run, keep the ball in play, next play is our goal,” Doile said. “We are sticking to our last week's game plan of “positive, enthusiastic no matter what.”
Here are the MHS stat leaders:
• Kills •
Megan Pedersen, 327
Magan Alexander, 317
Katlyn Ruth, 169
• Assists •
Megan Pedersen, 423
Brooke Schrag, 398
• Blocks •
Mandi Cooks, 61
Rachel Dossett, 56
Megan Pedersen, 40
• Digs •
Addie Simon, 249
Megan Pedersen, 217
Magan Alexander, 207
• SCHEDULE •
• Court A •
8:30 — McPherson vs. Wellington
9:30 — Tonganoxie vs. Andale
10:30 — McPherson vs. Andale
11:30 — Tonganoxie vs. Wellington
12:30 — Andale vs. Wellington
1:30 — McPherson vs. Tonganoxie
8:30 — Louisburg vs. Andover Central
9:30 — Miege vs Chanute
10:30 — Louisburg vs. Chanute
11:30 — Miege vs. Andover Central
12:30 — Chanute vs. Andover Central
1:30 — Louisburg vs. Miege
• Saturday’s semifinals start at 10 a.m. with two matches