Front row: Della Smith, Rhianna Smith, Greg Smith
Back row: Susan Barton, Christy Doile
From Bullpup to Bulldog.
McPherson High’s Rhianna Smith will take her volleyball and academic talents a few blocks to the east as Wednesday she signed a letter of intent with McPherson College.
Smith patiently waited for her opportunity for playing time with Christy Doile’s Bullpups as she started only her senior year for a team that took third in the state. She led MHS with 624 assists and added 109 digs. She was a calming influence on the floor with her steady play that earned her second-team AVCTL honors.
“I liked that they had a really strong business program, and marketing and graphic design,” Smith said. “That’s what I’m interested in and that was the reason I decided to go there. I felt like academically they were the strongest.”
Smith said she watched Susan Barton’s Bulldogs play on occasion this season.
“I liked it, I liked what I saw,” she said. “I wasn’t picking my school based on sports because I’m not majoring in sports. I’m majoring in marketing, so that’s what was more important to me, academics.”
Smith said she was drawn to playing for Mac because of Barton, whose team was 11-19 last year with mostly underclassmen.
“I really like her a lot,” Smith said. “I’ve talked to her and I’ve known her before this. I’ve done camps with her and I like her a lot. I think it will be a good experience.”
“She’s really good and I’m excited about that,” Barton said. “The No. 1 thing, besides her setting, was her personality and how excited she is for everybody else’s success. I think that’s really important, especially when hitters see how excited you are, because they put the ball on the floor but, at the same time, we have great passing and we have girls who are going to get her the ball.”
Barton said Smith’s unflappable nature is another key as well as her coachability.
“That’s what you want out of your setter,” Barton said. “Your setter is your point guard, your quarterback.”
Smith is Barton’s first announced signee and she’s close on several others as she’s had many prospects on campus as she wants to get the program back to the first division of the KCAC.
Doile said she thinks Smith can make a seamless transition.
“Her energy, her hard work ethic, do it the right way,” Doile said as Smith’s strengths. “She’ll do whatever coach (Barton) will tell her to do. She’ll be good for the team morale and then you add the skills with that. She’s dependable, she’s trustworthy. She works hard at practice, she’s a good practice player and you want that in a setter.”
Smith’s Bullpup athletic career is not over as she will be a vital cog for the MHS bowling team this winter that is trying to defend its state championship.