HUTCHINSON — McPherson High’s volleyball team opened and closed the AVCTL Preseason Tournament with losses, but in between the Bullpups were outstanding as they finished Saturday with a 4-2 record to kick off the season.
MHS lost to Andover (23-25, 15-25) early in the morning, but then charged back with four straight victories before losing to Newton. Andover and Newton were both 5-1 on the day and tied with Goddard and Maize for the best records.
The wins were against Dodge City (25-9, 25-16), Campus (25-15, 25-19), Andover Central (25-11, 25-23) and Derby (25-18, 25-20). MHS took Newton to three sets before losing (25-22, 20-25, 16-25).
“The absolutely No. 1 thing I take away from the weekend is these girls’ willingness to compete, the love of the game and their ability to be coached,” MHS coach Christy Doile said. “As a coach this group wants to please, embraces the correction even if it isn't what they want to hear. If you are a volleyball fan or just watching volleyball for the first time, this is a team you want to watch.”
Doile said the Bullpups competed well against Andover, especially in the first set. The other two games in the pool were solid wins against Dodge City and Campus.
Doile was especially pleased with the win over Andover Central in the bracket play.
“I kindly reminded the team they beat you to take your Final 4 appearance away from you last fall,” she said. “They finished third in the state and we lost to them, not allowing us to compete the next day. We were so close that Friday at state. You know that feeling that just makes you mad, that made you sad last year, please play with that feeling in mind today.”
And with that, the Bullpups won in straight sets
“Our girls responded, they handled them set 1,” Doile said. “We found ourselves down quite a bit (in the) second set. I kept telling them don't look at the score, just give it your best effort every serve, don't let the score determine your effort. We have time, put pressure on them, we won set 1 and fight like crazy for set 2. We had an epic come-behind win and I can't tell you what the score was, because I wouldn't look at it. Great win and we fought back to win set 2.”
Doile said MHS then took care of Derby, even with its outstanding hitting. “We handled their bigness in great stride and beat them in two straight sets,” she said.
Even in the loss to Newton, Doile said the Bullpups showed a lot of toughness. They won the first set, but couldn’t hold off the Railers’ hitting in the final two.
It was a terrific day for Elle Barrett as she threw down 51 kills. Michaela Bowers added 21, Cassie Cooks 20 and Andrea Sweat 19.
Bowers led in digs with 47, followed by Bailea Crist (36) and Jaycee Burghart (29).
Crist served up 9 aces, while Bowers had 8. Burghart was all over the floor with 111 assists. Sweat led in blocks with 13.
MHS will make its home debut on Tuesday with Wellington and Mulvane coming to town. The Bullpups play Wellington at 5:00 at the Roundhouse and the match with Mulvane should start approximately 7:30.