The first blow for “Buhler Week” has been struck by the McPherson High volleyball team.
On an emotional Senior Night at the Roundhouse, the Bullpups rallied from a set down on Tuesday to defeat their arch-rivals 21-25, 25-17, 25-20 before a raucous crowd.
Coupled with an earlier win over Circle (25-18, 25-18), the Bullpups are now 8-0 in AVCTL Division III matches and take a 16-6 record to the Spring Hill Invitational this weekend.
The Bullpups had been having trouble in three-set matches, with five of their six losses coming in matches that went the limit.
MHS and Buhler meet in several competitions this week, including soccer here Thursday and football at Buhler on Friday. MHS-Buhler matchups always seem to bring out the best in both schools.
MHS coach Christy Doile was pleased to come away with two wins on Senior Night as her team remained undefeated at home at 6-0. Circle played tough in the first match and Buhler was a handful in the finale.
“Both teams were diving all over the place and both teams were able to get some nice hits,” Doile said. “They put nice balls down and we put some nice balls down.”
Against Circle, the Bullpups shot out to a 12-6 lead, only to see the T-Birds come back within 16-14. But MHS finished on a 9-4 run for a 25-18 victory.
In Set 2, the Bullpups trailed 17-16, but freshman Rhian Swanson came up with back-to-back kills and MHS completed a 25-19 victory.
But the focus was on Buhler. The Crusaders trailed Set 1 17-14 and MHS appeared to be on cruise control. But Buhler went on a tear, outscoring the Bullpups 11-4 to take some air out of the building with a 25-21 victory.
Set 2 was dynamite with both teams making big plays. With the score tied at 16, MHS put on a finishing on a 9-1 kick for a 25-17 victory, with Taylor Casebeer’s serving leading the run, while Swanson, Cassie Cooks and Kallie Jost were hammering the ball, set up by Jaycee Burghart and Michaela Bowers.
What pleased Doile most was winning the third set.
“A lot of times I feel like we win Set 1, there hasn’t been a lot of times we’ve lost Set 1,” she said. “When we go 3, we usually win Set 1 and then we lose Set 2 and then that third set has been kind of pivotal if we win or lose that one.”
Swanson came up with 18 kills and Cooks added 16 to lead the offense. Burghart was on the money with 55 assists, while Bowers had a whopping 33 digs as she saved several balls from hitting the floor. Jost had 14 kills, many of them seemingly coming when the matches were close.
Buhler defeated Circle in the other match.
The MHS JVs split on the night, with both matches going three sets. They knocked off Circle (20-25, 25-13, 25-21) before losing to Buhler (25-23, 18-25, 25-18).
“Our team was focused and ready for Circle,” MHS coach Melissa Bradshaw said. “Coming into tonight we had only three losses, one of them to Circle. We knew it would be a competitive match. We did an excellent job of serving them out of system. Their offense wasn’t able to do much against us. Megan Lulloff lead us with 5 aces.”
MHS couldn’t complete the sweep as Buhler played strong.
“We knew Buhler would be a tough match,” Bradshaw said. “While their team isn’t a huge offensive threat, they make few mistakes and cover the court extremely well. Addi Seidl has improved immensely on blocking and led our team with 3 stuff blocks. Buhler got on a few serve runs we couldn’t recover from. I know we are thankful we get to see them again later this season. This team has a lot to be proud of. We will continue to work on our offense and get ready for Bishop Carroll on Saturday.”
Lauren Labertew was all over the floor with 40 digs. Lulloff led in kills with 19 and Kaylee Zeitlow was tops in assists with 47.