OTTAWA — Blue Valley West proved to be a thorn in the side of the McPherson High volleyball team on Saturday in the Ottawa Invitational.
Because of the format, the teams met twice in a row and the Class 6A powerhouse handled the Bullpups in both matches.
“We will learn from these matches,” said MHS coach Christy Doile, whose third-ranked Class 4A team is now 22-4 after finishing the long day with a 2-3 record. “It helped us see holes in our defense and things we need to work on. Another piece we will take away from these losses is how we react to our mistakes. Our leadership in battle needs to more dependable and emotionally we have to be tougher as a group. With this experience, our kids will react better the next time we match up with teams that are genetically gifted.”
In pool play, the Bullpups knocked off Topeka West (25-9, 25-13) and old rival Rose Hill (25-23, 25-16), while losing to Blue Valley West (13-25, 11-25).
In the semifinals, the Bullpups again had no answer for West (13-25, 18-25) and then they lost to another Class 6A power, Blue Valley North, for third (22-25, 11-25).
“Once we get to the Final Four, the bracket is laid out and we are matched up with Blue Valley West again,” Doile said. “We just finished playing them in pool and the very next match is Blue Valley West again. We battled better the second time. Blue Valley West has kids that have committed to Mississippi, Kentucky, Harding and Missouri Western, plus a three-year starter that hasn't selected her school.”
The third-place foe, Blue Valley North, entered the day ranked No. 2 in Class 6A.
“They were coming off an emotional, tight 30-point match to reach the finals,” Doile said. “I was hoping we could fight like crazy and get them when they were down. Again a very talented, well-coached and big team.”
Doile couldn’t fault her team’s effort.
“Very proud of finishing in the Top 4 out of the 12 teams,” she said. “We were the smallest school, obviously, in the top four.”
Megan Pedersen notched 36 kills in the tourney, with Hannah Marshall (26) and Magan Alexander (17) lending support. Rhianna Smith’s 49 assists with tops, with Pedersen adding 25. Addie Simon was the dig leader with 26, followed by Marshall (21) and Alexander (17). Alexander had seven aces on the day, with Pedersen next with three.
MHS is on the road Tuesday to Augusta before hosting the annual McPherson Invitational on Saturday.