The McPherson High School volleyball team didn’t get the sweep Tuesday night in a home triangular, but they did play considerably better against No. 2 ranked Rose Hill.

The Bullpups were rocked by the Rockets back on Sept. 27 in a 12-25, 2-25 loss, but were up for the challenge the second time around, losing in straight sets 17-25, 19-25.

The Rockets are as good as any in Class 4A-Division I, which is exactly the kind of challenge the Bullpups need heading into sub-state on Saturday in Hays.

“I thought we played a lot better, but we just need to finish a little better,” Head Coach Christy Doile said.

The Bullpups started the triangular with a three-set win over Clearwater (22-25, 25-22, 25-14), which was a battle for two sets.

The Bullpups needed a come-from-behind effort, as they fell behind early in the first set, and were never able to claw their way back into it.

Some second set adjustments were made during the break, as the Pups came out winning four of the first five points, and ultimately held a 15-11 lead before Clearwater called a timeout.

Clearwater fought their way back into the set, and had things tied up at 19, before the Pups dominated the final points to force a third set.

A third set that was all McPherson.

The Bullpups jumped out to a 5-1 lead and never looked back, holding a 23-10 advantage at one point before Clearwater went on a mini run to make the score look closer than it was.

“Minus that first set against Clearwater, I thought we played well,” Doile said. “But if something like that first set were to happen at sub-state or state, we are now better prepared for it.”

But the Bullpups could not end senior night on a winning note, as Rose Hill clinched an undefeated Ark Valley Chisholm Trail Division III title in the process of winning their 32nd game of the season.

There are many positives the Bullpups can take away from this match, as they jumped out to an early lead in the first set. The Pups held an 8-5 lead before the Rockets won the next six points to force a McPherson timeout.

The Bullpups tied it back up at 14, but it was all Rose Hill the rest of the way.

It was a similar story in the second set, as the two squads split the first 30 points. But the Bullpups slowly wore down as the set progressed, and Rose Hill escaped with a pair of victories heading into sub-state.

Doile says if her team plays like they are capable of, she likes their chances of advancing to state.

The Bullpups will take a 23-16 record into sub-state in Hays on Saturday, and will be the second seed behind No. 4 ranked Ulysses.

Contact Gallagher Martin by email at gmartin@mcphersonsentinel.com and follow him on Twitter @GMartinSentinel.