Bullpup spikers ready for state

By Steve Sell
October 29, 2014

When McPherson High volleyball coach Christy Doile learned of the Class 4A Division I State Tournament pairings on Sunday, she probably breathed somewhat of a sigh of relief.

No Miege on the Bullpups’ side of the bracket. No Topeka Hayden. Two perennial powers  that a lot of those in the know believe may be the teams to beat when the tournament gets under way on Friday at Salina’s Bicentennial Center.

That’s not to say the Bullpups will have a cakewalk in Friday’s pool play, but it’s certainly been made easier by the fact those two powerhouses are on the other side. Last year MHS — the defending state champion at the time — was ousted on the first day after pool losses to Miege and Louisburg, which ended up meeting in the finals.

“We can only control what we can control,” said Doile, whose team is the No. 2 overall seed with a 33-6 record. “Our goal is to get out of pool play. We dramatically didn't make it out last year.  Our focus is to get out of pool play Friday and then worry about Saturday. Saturday our goal is to bring home another banner and exceed potential. We realize our crowd and community, due to Halloween and Senior Night football, will be a bit more limited on Friday. We want to compete for the Final Four and have our fans up on Saturday to support us.”

The Bullpups’ toughest challenge could come in their first match at 3:30 p.m. when they take on Louisburg (28-11). That’s followed by matches at 5:30 against DeSoto (29-10) and 8:30 against an Andale team (32-7) they already have beaten twice this year.

“Louisburg has big middles with talented outsides, making them harder to defend,” Doile said. “They return many starters from last year’s state runner-up team, however they have 11 losses on the season. We are putting up bigger blocks at practice and have put in other simulations to get our girls prepared. They will run a 5-1 with their setter and that will give us a smaller block versus our outside hitters. Their big middles are very active hitting in front and in the back of the setter.”

DeSoto is in the same league as Louisburg, with the latter having won the season matchup. Andale is a team the Bullpups defeated in three sets on the road, then in two sets at the Newton Invitational. It is led by a hitter who has signed with Missouri Western and Doile said a key is to keep her from dominating the action.

Chanute (36-3) is the top seed on the other side of the bracket, and is joined by Miege (31-9), Hayden (33-8) and Rose Hill (24-14). Miege has been ranked No. 1 much of the season despite the nine losses, but has several players back from last year’s title team. 

The Bullpups have been riding the play of the 3-Ms — Megan Pedersen, Magan Alexander and Hannah Marshall. They were the primary returners coming into the season, with Pedersen and Alexander both powerful hitters while Marshall is versatile, as she does a little bit of everything.

“Our offense is our strength,” Doile said. “We have some dominate hitters, with Megan and Magan leading the way, Megan Pedersen being a lefty, she is harder to block. She also takes swings out of the middle and the backside. Magan A (Alexander) has a heavy arm. She has been mixing in her tip and her multiple offensive set choices making her harder to defend. Hannah Marshall seemed to find a way to jump higher, hit harder and find some holes during our sub-state. She played like a returner at sub-state and we absolutely loved it. Serving can also be our strength.  We have the potential to keep teams out of system, earn some aces, but need to be aware of the number of missed serves per set as we go back to serve.”

Rhianna Smith has done an excellent job as the Bullpups’ primary setter in her first year as a starter. Addie Simon and Ashtyn Schieferecke have made major contributions as well, along with Taylor Neufeldt, Taylor Metz, Rachel Dossett and Katlyn Ruth.

Doile is hoping some intangibles will work in the Bullpups’ favor.

“We spend a great amount of time on our core values within our program, to keep our mental edge to help us train to exceed potential,” Doile said. “I think experience and a fifth straight trip to state will hep with our confidence and anxiety level. We have returners from previous state volleyball, state basketball, state ssoftball and state bowling tournaments.”  


• Kills •

Megan Pedersen, 333

Magan Alexander, 296

Hannah Marshall, 203

Taylor Metz, 52

Ashtyn Schieferecke, 34

Katlyn Ruth, 26

Rachel Dossett, 18

Rhianna Smith, 10

• Assists •

Rhianna Smith, 535

Megan Pedersen, 269

Ashtyn Schieferecke, 28

Hannah Marshall, 19

Magan Alexander, 11

• Serve Aces •

Magan Alexander, 73

Hannah Marshall, 39

Megan Pedersen, 38

Addie Simon, 28

Ashtyn Schieferecke, 14

Rhianna Smith, 12

Taylor Neufeld, 11

• Digs •

Addie Simon, 260

Hannah Marshall, 249

Magan Alexander, 187

Megan Pedersen, 177

Ashtyn Schieferecke, 116

Rhianna Smith, 93

Taylor Neufeld, 19

• Blocks •

Taylor Metz, 38

Megan Pedersen, 34

Magan Alexander, 23

Katlyn Ruth, 15

Hannah Marshall, 14

Rachel Dossett, 10