The faces of the McPherson High School volleyball team told the story Friday after the Bullpups’ final match of the day against Louisburg.
On the line was second play in Pool II of the Class 4A Division I State Volleyball Tournament, as both MHS and the Wildcats were 1-1 in pool play, both having lost to Bishop Miege. Winner would advance to Saturday’s semifinals, the loser would watch from the stands.
When the dust cleared after an incredible battle, Louisburg moved on, while McPherson saw their phenomenal season come to a close. The Pups ended their season with a record of 39-4, while seniors Janae Barnes, Moira Pyle, Alisa Becker, Abby Pedersen and Paige Regnier will go down in history as one of the winningest classes at MHS.
“This senior group is phenomenal,” McPherson coach Christy Doile said. “They put together a great career. They’re obviously pretty upset about [losing], but they’re good people and they try to do the right things and sometimes it just doesn’t go your way.”
Against Louisburg, the Bullpups were up 15-11, but the Wildcats tied it at 23-23. The Wildcats picked up two-straight kills to give Louisburg the set one win.
McPherson looked to force a third set, however, as they were in firm control of set two at 20-15 when Regnier went down with an injured ankle that left her in obvious pain. The Pups managed to get the next point, but gave up the next nine to the Wildcats as MHS struggled with the serve-receive.
“It gave them just enough of an edge,” Doile said of Regnier’s injury.
A late rally gave some hope, as Regnier returned to the floor and helped McPherson close the gap to 24-23, but Louisburg took advantage of the Pups’ struggles with the serve-receive to win 25-23.
“I thought we had it rolling in the second set,” Doile said. “That’s the team we were really wanting to show up, not that the first set was bad. Set two, everything was clicking. It was going our way. We had the momentum.”
McPherson started out the day Friday on a high note, as they steamrolled through Andover Central 2-0 (25-11, 25-17).
The Pups then went blow-for-blow in the first set with Bishop Miege in their second match, as extra points were needed before the Stags pulled out the 26-24 win. MHS never seemed to recover in set two, as the Miege handily won 25-14.
The Pups finished with a 1-2 record in pool play. It was a bitter disappointment for a Bullpup team that never wavered from No. 1 in the Class 4A Kansas Volleyball Association rankings throughout the season.
Page 2 of 2 - Miege went 3-0 on the day to win the pool, with Louisburg the runners-up.
The Stags, who have to be considered the odds-on favorite to win the state championship, will face Rose Hill, who went 2-1 in Pool I with wins over Topeka Hayden and Kansas City Piper.
Louisburg will face Chanute in the other semifinal. The Blue Comets also went 2-1, but had the tie-breaker over Rose Hill. Their loss came at the hands of Hayden.
Semifinal play beings this morning at 10 a.m.
Contact Chris Swick by email at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @SwickSentinel.