A one-set deficit against the top seed in the finals of the Great Bend Class 5A volleyball sub-state tournament didn’t seem to faze McPherson High Saturday.


A one-set deficit against the top seed in the finals of the Great Bend Class 5A volleyball sub-state tournament didn’t seem to faze McPherson High Saturday.
The fourth-seeded Bullpups came from behind in the final two sets to upset third-ranked Valley Center in an emotional final match, earning a trip to the state tournament.
“That’s just the characteristic of our team. We try to train that in practice and do that in the games,” Bullpup coach Christy Doile said of  her team’s emotional play. “That’s just their personality. It’s kind of my personality. And it kind of clicks.”  
Valley Center grabbed the advantage by winning the first set 25-18 and jumping to a 7-2 lead in the second. The Bullpups tied the game at 9, 11 and 13 before a Valley error, a push by Sarah Gaeddert and a service ace by Paige Regnier put them up 16-13.
The Hornets knotted the score at 17, but a service error put McPherson on top to stay. Three more Valley errors, followed by a pair of kills from Bethany Farres, pushed the lead to six, 23-17.  
Leading 23-19, an error by Valley and a kill by Katelyn Loecker gave McPherson the win.
“We like to play with a sense of urgency,” Gaeddert said. “We like to push ourselves and each other in practice. I think it showed on the court that none of us wanted to give up in this game at all.”
In the final set, Valley was up 9-6 when Sophie Simon and Loecker sparked the Bullpups to a 12-9 lead.  
After the Hornets pulled within one, 17-16, McPherson reeled off seven straight points to take control. Farres had three kills – two on blocks – and Gaeddert had three aces for a 24-16 lead. Another error gave the Bullpups a reservation in Topeka.
Their defense was effective in shutting down Valley’s outside hitting the last two sets.  
“The kids were making good reads and were really working well on pressing,” Doile said. “That’s just them and their pressing over the net, trying to get to the ball.”
The Bullpups beat Salina South 25-17 in the first set of their opening-round match. They had to come from behind for an emotional second-set win, 26-24.
This will be McPherson’s first trip to state since 2005. To have worked hard through the adversity caused by some late-season injuries is an even greater testimony to this team.
“Our whole entire team did outstanding,” Doile said. “I’m happy for the two seniors (Gaeddert and Sierra Brodin) and the rest of the team to follow them and see what we can do.”
“It’s definitely a great way to go out as a senior,” Gaeddert said, “and we’re not done.”
McPherson opens pool play against Tecumseh-Shawnee Heights at 3:30 p.m. Friday at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka. The first-and second-place teams from each pool will play semifinal matches at 2 p.m. Saturday.
The seeds in the tournament, with their season records, are: 1. Bishop Miege 34-3, 2. Newton 34-7, 3. Lansing 33-7, 4. Aquinas 27-9, 5. Bishop Carroll 27-9, 6. McPherson 28-13, 7. Shawnee Heights 28-18, 8. Kapaun Mt. Carmel 24-14.