Every hit seemed a little harder, every scream a little louder after a winning point.
The opponent, after all, was Buhler.
The Crusaders seemed to breathe fire into McPherson High’s volleyball team here Tuesday night, as they turned up the heat to win 25-17, 25-18 to sweep the triangular at the Roundhouse.
MHS had opened with a warped-speed 25-10, 25-4 rout of Winfield. The evening sweep raised the Bullpups’ gaudy record to 33-4 with one match left to play next week.
“It was Senior Night and it was Buhler,” said MHS coach Christy Doile of her team’s ramped-up intensity. “Buhler gets excited to play us and we get excited to play them in every sport.”
The Crusaders’ excitement, however, probably has waned, as it now has lost four times to MHS this year.
While MHS honored longtime senior stars Briana Pontious, Katelyn Loecker and Tashley Snyder, it was junior Paige Regnier who played a big role in the seniors going out a winner.
The springy Regnier was a force at the net against Winfield with kills and dinks, then had a stretch of serves in the second set against Buhler that enabled MHS to clinch the match.
The Bullpups were pretty comfortable in the first set against Buhler, but the Crusaders overcame an early 8-2 deficit in the second set to eventually knot the game at 14-all. But moments later, Regnier rattled off a stretch of laser serves, as the Bullpups wound up pulling away.
The Winfield match was never close, as MHS scored 16 of the first 19 points in set one, 16 of the first 17 in set two.
“Sub-state is in the back of their minds,” Doile said of her team wanting to get into tournament form, “It’s getting closer.”
Doile said Wamego and Abilene appear to be the top challengers to MHS.
MHS goes to Circle Tuesday in the final tuneup before regionals.
The MHS JVs waltzed to two more wins to improve to 25-3, with the scores 25-9, 25-13 against Winfield and 25-13, 25-11 against Buhler. Bullpup coach Diane Marshall said it was an entire team effort, as all the players had moments where they contributed.