Don’t call 2014 a rebuilding year for McPherson High School volleyball.

Don’t call 2014 a rebuilding year for McPherson High School volleyball.
“We don’t like that word,” Bullpup coach Christy Doile said. “We understand that, on paper, that’s what it looks like, but we’re doing everything we can to be more into reloading than rebuilding.”
The Pups do have some big shoes to fill this coming season. Gone are Paige Regnier, Moira Pyle, Abby Pedersen, Alisa Becker and Janae Barnes, all of whom were starters when the Bullpups won their first-ever state championship in 2012.
Back, however, from last year’s 39-4 squad are two outstanding players in senior Hannah Marshall and junior Megan Pedersen. The 5-10 Marshall will shift to the outside this season after playing middle hitter in 2013. She had a .250 hitting percentage, with 14 aces and 153 kills. Defensively, she had 20 blocks with 145 digs.
Pedersen, meanwhile, is a 6-1 setter and OP, who Doile plans on be in as many serve receives as possible for the Pups. She boasted a .310 hitting percentage, with 161 kills and 27 aces in 2013. Defensively, she had 44 blocks, 215 digs and a 2.36 receive rating.
Pedersen also has made a verbal commitment to play volleyball for UMKC after high school.
The two represent a connection to the past with the future of Bullpup volleyball.
“They understand the expectations,” Doile said. “They should help to take some of the pressure off from some of the kids that are coming in.”
One of those athletes that have been waiting for their opportunities in the starting rotation is junior Magan Alexander. The 5-11 outside hitter is someone whom Doile says that, on any other high school team, would have started last year, but, with the Bullpups as stacked with talent as they were, contributed in a substitute role. That is expected to change in 2014.
Also expected to help Pedersen run the offense is senior Rhianna Smith, a 5-6 setter.
“As summer progressed, she’s moved into that setting position that she’s dreamed about probably since she was a little kid,” Doile said. “She says all the right things, she does all the right things. She plays much bigger than she is and she’s that kid you’re happy for that is on the court. She’s just a great role model for the others.”
Doile, entering her ninth year as the Bullpup head coach, has a number of options available to her from all four classes to round out her roster. Senior Taylor Metz, junior Katlyn Ruth and sophomore Rachel Dossett will all be in contention for the middle hitting positions.
On the right, senior Taylor Neufeldt, junior Ashtyn Schieferecke and freshman Mandi Cooks will be looking for the second right side position beside Pedersen.  Doile has several players that can also stay in for all six rotations, including Neufeldt and Schieferecke, along with junior Addie Simon.
Underestimating the Bullpups will be easy for anyone simply looking at what they’ve lost since last year. That makes MHS very dangerous as they begin the quest to defend their back-to-back AVCTL Division III championship.
“We have seniors that have waited for this opportunity to be on the varsity court,” Doile said. “We have a talented junior class, who also would like to join the seniors and leave their mark in the program. Our sophomores have a relentless desire to compete, pushing the upper classmen.”
McPherson starts the season with the annual AVCTL Preseason Tournament Aug. 30 at Hutchinson High School. They have four home meets on the schedule, including the McPherson Invitational Oct. 11.

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