ULYSSES — Four teams came to play at the sub-state in Ulysses on Saturday. After surviving in a three-set match against Buhler in the semifinals, the McPherson High volleyball team ended its season with a hard-fought loss to Ulysses. The Bullpups finished the season with a remarkable 35-6 record.
After the loss, head coach Christy Doile had nothing but positives for her team, especially her four seniors.
“To my outgoing seniors, my heart just breaks for them,” Doile said. “I wanted them and the team to know that I wasn’t upset with them. We had such a great journey this season, and we made really great memories along the way. This timely loss doesn’t take away all the great things we accomplished together. I told the seniors and the team to take this life lesson and learn from it. Use this expereince to make it better for the next sub-state you compete in.”
Seniors Mandi Cooks, Kenzie Goering, Bailea Crist, and Elle Barrett may not be going out the way they had hoped, but they are leaving the program as household names.
“All of them were two-year starters and Cooks would have been a three-year starter (injury),” Doile said. “They have been a huge part of our success. They have all put in extra hours, days, weeks to be better volleyball players to help this program. They should be very proud of all their accomplishments, even if it didn’t end as they had hoped. The season ending loss doesn’t take away anything they have done for the program.”
The Bullpups squared off with Buhler for the second time in the week with a sub-state championship berth on the line. McPherson won the first set with relative ease, 25-15, but fell behind early in set two.
The Bullpups dropped the second set 25-19, and were in danger of dropping the third set as well after Buhler jumped out to a large lead. But the Bullpups dug deep, and found away to win the final set, 25-21.
“I preach not to look at the score in this situation as it gives a false sense of defeat,” Doile said. “We finally got in our rhythm, our defense picked up, and [Jaycee] Burghart connected some timely hits with Barrett, Cooks, and [Andrea] Sweat.”
With a chance to make state, the Bullpups ran into the home team Ulysses for two, intense sets. Despite leading for most of the first set, unforced errors allowed Ulysses to steal the set, 25-23.
Ulysses led 6-2 in the second set, and continued to put the pressure on the Pups. However, the Bullpups fought back to make it 20-21 before Ulysses rallied off four straight points to book its ticket to state.
“I’m so proud of the girls for fighting back,” Doile said. “In this program we do have high expectations to reach the state tournament and this is why this stings.”
The Bullpups should be solid once again next season. Burghart, Sweat, and Cassie Cooks will be key returners for next year.