The McPherson College volleyball team stepped out of Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference play for the final time Saturday, coming away with a split in a triangular held at Central Christian College.
The Bulldogs (19-9) fell to John Brown University in five sets (26-24, 26-24, 23-25, 16-25, 15-11) before sweeping the host Tigers (25-20, 25-12, 25-17) in matches played at Jerry A. Alexander Arena.
John Brown (Ark.) def. McPherson, 3-2 (26-24, 26-24, 23-25, 16-25, 15-11)
McPherson used a 9-4 run to grab a 19-16 lead in the opening set, only to see the Golden Eagles retake the lead with four straight points. The teams traded stretches of three consecutive points to give John Brown a 23-22 lead before Lexi Kite and Riley Bradbury recorded kills to give the Bulldogs a set point. A kill from Carly McKinney kept JBU alive in the set and they were able to capitalize as Kite and Bree Wallace hit into blocks to give John Brown the set.
In the second set, McPherson needed a 10-4 run to erase a six-point deficit and tie the set at 20-all. John Brown scored four of the next six points to sit just a point away from a 2-0 lead overall, but the Bulldogs drew even on back-to-back kills by Riley Bradbury. Jessica Meyer responded with a kill to give the Golden Eagles another set point. They then forced a McPherson attack error to take the set.
John Brown jumped out to a 13-9 lead in the third set, but McPherson rallied to take the lead with a 10-3 run. The Golden Eagles scored three straight points to tie the set at 19-19, and the score eventually moved to 22-22, but the Bulldogs scored three of the final four points — capped by a Leia Seiler kill — to prolong the match.
JBU also took an early 7-3 lead in the fourth set, but could not hold on as McPherson responded with six straight points to take the lead. The Golden Eagles followed with three in a row, but an 8-1 McPherson run helped the Bulldogs close out the set and send the match to a fifth and deciding set.
The teams had matching 4-0 runs to open the final set. John Brown followed with the next three capped by a Bayli Reagan service ace to lead 7-4. A Mady Woog kill and a JBU attack error cut the deficit to just one, but McPherson would not be able to reel in the Golden Eagles. With the loss, the Bulldogs fell to 1-6 in five-set matches this season.
Kite led the Bulldogs with a 18-kill, 29-dig double-double, while Rianne Richard posted a match-high 40 digs. Kaitlyn Heinis also had a double-double with 26 assists and 11 digs. Woog had seven kills and five blocks, including three solo stuffs.
Five Golden Eagles finished with double-digits in kills, led by Jessica Meyer with 14. Meyer also had 10 blocks (three solo) as JBU racked up 18 blocks overall. Reagan (18 digs, 12 kills), McKinney (22 digs, 13 kills) and Alyssa Arnold (57 assists, 16 digs) all had double-doubles.
McPherson def. Central Christian, 3-0 (25-20, 25-12, 25-17)
Head Coach Jessica Cleveland rested Kite and Richard and limited the playing time of most of her regular rotation against the Tigers (6-19).
Central Christian led early in the first set, using a 6-1 run to turn a 7-5 deficit into an 11-8 lead before Wallace and Woog combined on a block for the side-out. That sent McPherson on a 6-1 run of its own to retake a two-point lead. CCC would get no closer down the stretch, with the Bulldogs using a 7-2 run to get to set point. A McPherson service error and a Rebekah Glessner kill burned a couple of set points, but Woog and Elizabeth Williams combined for another block to end the set.
McPherson led from start to finish in the second set. The Bulldogs opened up on a 9-1 run, then scored seven straight on the serve of Elizabeth Williams to put the set out of reach.
Williams helped McPherson keep Central at arms length in the third set, combining with Jessica Lane on a block then recording back-to-back kills as part of a 5-0 run that gave the Bulldogs a 14-7 lead. The teams traded side outs, but the Tigers got no closer than six points down the stretch.
Williams led all players with 10 kills. She also had three block assists. Keisha England added six kills, while Riley Bradbury had five kills, five digs, two assists and three block assists. Woog had four kills and a team-high four block assists while playing just two sets. Reven Bradbury had a team-best 19 digs, while Galindo added eight. Heinis finished with 11 assists, while Little and Reven Bradbury had eight apiece.
Central Christian — which played only seven players — was led by Kasi Kraus' nine kills. She also had 13 digs and a service ace. Desiree Padilla had 25 digs, while Hannah Fredrickson, Kacie Platt and Glessner had nine each. Fredrickson also accounted for 30 of the Tigers' 31 assists.
McPherson closes out the regular season with a pair of KCAC road matches this week. The Bulldogs face Bethany Wednesday evening in Lindsborg before traveling to Winfield on Friday to play Southwestern in the regular-season finale. The Bulldogs' 19 victories this season — combined with the school-record 21 from a year ago — mark the best two-year win total in program history. The previous mark of 39 was set in 1984-1985.