McPherson High spikers fall in finals to Mill Valley

A lot of pre-tournament volleyball talk in Saturday’s McPherson Invitational centered on top-seed and once-beaten Kapaun and the No. 2 seed, the host McPherson Bullpups, perhaps the leading contender in Class 4A now that St. James has moved up to 5A.
Apparently, Mill Valley didn’t catch wind of all the hype.
The Jaguars, who started the day 14-3 and not even listed in the “others” category in Class 5A, stunned 5A’s second-ranked team, Kapaun, in the semifinals, then swept the No. 3-ranked Class 4A Bullpups in the finals to certainly earn the distinction as McPherson Invitational champion.
Mill Valley had started the day with a lackluster loss to the Bullpups in pool play, scoring just 12 points in its first set. But from there, the Jaguars — based out of  Shawnee — ripped it up.
“They were just probably sluggish from the drive down,” said MHS coach Christy Doile, whose team went 4-0 in pool play and then knocked off Salina Central in the semifinals. “I saw them play against some of the other teams and they were a little up and a little down. When they’re on, they’re on.”
 In the title match, the Jaguars rattled off eight straight points early and after MHS stopped the run, it was another 4-0 sizz that pushed the lead to 14-3. MHS did try to chip away, but never got it under six as Mill Valley won, 25-18.
MHS trailed 9-7 in the second set when the Jaguars again had a hot stretch, outscoring the Bullpups 10-4 to lead 19-11. MHS did show some grit by getting as close as five, but Mill Valley scored the final two points to again win, 25-18.
“If you took away that last match, my speech about the day would be different,” said Doile, whose team looked strong in pool play, then overcame a 19-11 deficit in the second set of the semifinals against Salina Central. “Everything was clicking.  We were serving very well and serving people out of system. We couldn’t get these guys (Mill Valley) out of system. A couple of serve receives the first match they struggled with, and we went at those same people and they were on. They didn’t make many mistakes.”
The Bullpups won their pool matches against Hutchinson (25-12, 25-15), Mill Valley (25-12, 25-23), Arkansas City (25-6, 25-11) and Goddard (25-7, 25-11). MHS then defeated Salina Central 25-11, 26-24, never leading the second set until taking a 25-24 lead.
Mill Valley was 3-1 in pool play and survived a semifinal war with Kapaun, coming back to win the last two sets after losing the first.
MHS is now 31-4 on the year and  home for the final time tonight against Winfield and Buhler. Match time is 5 p.m. and it will be Senior Night.
Tournament scores can be found in the scoreboard on page B2.