McPherson High’s volleyball team figured to match up with Class 3A power and No. 1-ranked Hillsboro at some point in Saturday’s McPherson Invitational.
Just not in the semifinals.
The Bullpups and Trojans, which normally would be a championship match in about any other instance, needed three sets to determine the outcome. After Hillsboro won the first set 25-19, the Bullpups took command with an unfathomable 25-6 rout.
To the Trojans’ credit, they scored the last two points of the deciding set for a 25-23 victory.
Hillsboro went on to lose in the finals to another MHS conqueror, Bishop Carroll, which scored 25-20, 25-21 victories.
The Bullpups wound up taking third place after getting a push from Hutchinson (20-25, 25-23, 25-17).
MHS thus finished 3-2 on the day as it had deposited wins against Goddard (25-14, 25-22) and Nickerson (25-12, 25-10) in pool play, but lost to 5A-ranked Carroll in three (13-25, 25-23, 13-25).
The Bullpups are now 27-6 on the year.
“I like the fact we went three (sets) with Carroll,” MHS coach Christy Doile said. “I would like to see us be closer and battle better in the two sets we lost versus them. I don't feel the scores reflect the closeness of the match.”
Doile said the Bullpups played what amounted to “spurt” volleyball in the loss to Hillsboro.
“We have to be more consistent and be more comfortable being uncomfortable,” she said. “We needed to dig and convert for more points. We needed to put the ball down before they did.”
The Bullpups did have to pick themselves up emotionally after that loss.
“We get behind in set 2 and by a significant amount,” Doile said. “It is getting late in the match and it is looking like we might leave 2-3 on the day. We call our final timeout and collectively the girls were able to pull together. They had to dig deep for this come-from-behind win. From the point that the comeback started, we didn't look back. The momentum shifted, we started making less unforced errors and Hutch started making their errors. Set 3 we were more like ourselves. Emotionally that match was tough coming so quickly after the Hillsboro match. I'm so thankful for our comeback in set 2.”
Megan Pedersen led the Bullpups with 54 kills on the day, while Magan Alexander was right behind with 53 and Hannah Marshall had 32. Pedersen also led in digs with 44, two more than Marshall. Addie Simon added 40. Rhianna Smith led in assists with 78 and Pedersen furnished 45. Marshall (7 aces), Alexander (6) and Simon (5) all had good serving days.
The Bullpups, whose six losses have come in tournament play while being undefeated in triangulars, goes to Winfield on Tuesday.