This was a no-doubter.
McPherson High’s volleyball team rampaged its way through its Class 4A Division I Sub-State Tournament here Saturday by steamrolling Ulysses 25-11, 25-15 in the finals after cruising past Hays 25-14, 25-20 in the semifinals.
The Bullpups will take a 33-6 record to Salina on Friday for the opening day of state play at the Bicentennial Center. They are the No. 2 seed and play at 3:30 p.m. against Louisburg (28-11), 5:30 p.m. against DeSoto (29-10) and 8:30 p.m. against Andale (32-7).
Looming on the other side of the bracket is defending champion Miege, though the Stags are 31-9 and the No. 5 seed. However, they play a much more difficult schedule than top-seed Chanute (36-3), while Rose Hill (24-14) and Hayden (33-8) round out the field.
The Bullpups proved to be state worthy at the Roundhouse with one of their best efforts of the year. For MHS coach Christy Doile, it marks a fifth straight trip to state, with the Bullpups taking second in 2011 and winning it all in 2012. Last year they were thought to be one of the favorites, but did not advance out of pool play and that could be a motivating factor next weekend.
Spurred on by perhaps the most raucous volleyball crowd in recent Roundhouse memory, the Bullpups sped through the bracket like they had a bus to catch.
“The real Bullpups made an appearance today,” said Doile, whose team had struggled somewhat at home this year despite losing in the grand old building just twice.
Hays came into the semifinal match 26-9, but the Bullpups dominated from start to finish.
“We had been in a tournament with Hays, but they hadn’t been in our pool,” Doile said. “You see all these people on film, but you never really know until you’re actually on the court with them what’s going to happen.”
Ulysses entered the day 34-2, the best record in 4A Division I, but ranked only No. 9. It nearly didn’t make it past Buhler, as the 16-20 Crusaders took the Tigers to three sets. Buhler surprised Ulysses 25-21 in the first set before the Tigers won 25-23, 25-13.
The Bullpups then blazed out to big leads in both sets against Ulysses and ended the match in supersonic speed.
Doile congratulated the crowd for providing an emotional boost, including a vocal student section that stepped up vociferously.
“Our crowd was big,” she said. “Free pizza might have brought a few people in. We provided free pizza for the student section.”
Leading the way on the day was the 3-Ms — Megan, Magan and Marshall.
Megan Pedersen had 18 kills and 24 assists, while Magan Alexander had 23 kills and 10 digs. Hannah Marshall had 12 kills and 10 digs. Rhianna Smith provided 29 assists and Addie Simon added 10 digs. Smith led in aces with four, while Marshall and Taylor Neufeldt added three apiece.
“Everything was firing the way it needed to fire,” said Doile, noting the team received contributions from everybody who took the court. “I think we kept each set under two missed serves. There’s times we’ve missed five serves in a set.”
• STATE PAIRINGS •
• Court A •
3:30 — Chanute vs. Rose Hill
4:30 — Hayden vs. Miege
5:30 — Chanute vs. Miege
6:30 — Hayden vs. Rose Hill
7:30 — Miege vs. Rose Hill
8:30 — Chanute vs. Hayden
• Court B •
3:30 — McPherson vs. Louisburg
4:30 — Andale vs. DeSoto
5:30 — McPherson vs. DeSoto
6:30 — Andale vs. Louisburg
7:30 — DeSoto vs. Louisburg
8:30 — McPherson vs. Andale
Saturday’s semifinals will start at 2 p.m.
• Note — State-ranked teams that didn’t qualify were Wamego (No. 5), Abilene (No. 6) and Ulysses (No. 9).