LINDSBORG — The McPherson College volleyball team fell to 19-10 overall and 14-7 in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference with a four-set loss to Bethany College Wednesday evening at Hahn Gymnasium.
The Swedes (11-19, 10-9 KCAC) won, 25-18, 25-20, 19-25, 25-23.
Bethany made the first significant breakthrough in the first set, scoring four in a row to break a 12-12 tie. McPherson responded with three of the next five, but the Swedes put together another 4-0 stretch — punctuated by three straight blocks — to take a 22-15 lead.
A 3-1 Bulldog run cut the lead to five points, but Bethany closed out the set with a McPherson service error and a kill by Kim Stringer.
The second set began with a series of runs. McPherson scored the first three on the service of Kaitlyn Heinis. Bethany followed with the next five, then added four more after another 3-0 run by the Bulldogs.
The Swedes extended the lead to eight points with an 8-2 run and maintained that cushion until McPherson strung together five straight points late in the set to cut the advantage to four at 23-19. An Azucena Duarte kill gave Bethany a set point. Lexi Kite followed with a kill to extend the set, but Duarte provided another kill to put Bethany up 2-0.
McPherson overcame an early Bethany lead in the third set, using a 7-1 run to get within one point of taking the frame and halving the overall deficit. Stringer extended the set with a kill, then gave the point right back with an attack error to sent the match to a fourth set.
The Bulldogs opened the fourth set with three straight points and clung to the lead until the Swedes rattled off five straight points to tie the set at 13-all. A trio of Bethany errors followed to give McPherson a 16-13 lead, but a 3-0 run by the hosts a short time later tied the set again, this time at 18-all.
The teams traded the next six points to move the score to 21-21. A kill from Leia Seiler moved McPherson to within three points of tying the set, but back-to-back kills by Stringer and Jolinalynn Achui coupled with a block by Achui and Caitlin Boden gave Bethany a match point.
A kill by Bree Wallace extended the match to keep McPherson's hopes alive, but another kill by Stringer on the ensuing serve closed out the match.
Kite had a team-high 14 kills with seven digs and a pair of block assists, while Devrie Sombers and Wallace chipped in with 11 kills apiece. Sombers also had four block assists and Wallace had three block assists and four digs.
Riley Bradbury added eight kills and Seiler had five kills, six digs, two block assists and an assist.
Defensively, Jamie Siess had a team-high 14 digs. Morgan Abbott added six digs and 13 assists.
Morgan Little led McPherson with 23 assists, becoming the second Bulldog in five days to reach the 1,000 career assist plateau. Heinis, who hit the mark last Saturday, added 10 assists.
While Little reached her milestone, Kite inched closer to pair of her own. She now has 982 career kills and 97 career blocks.
Stringer had a match-high 15 kills to lead three Swedes in double figures. Duarte added 12 kills, 13 digs, four aces and four blocks (one solo), while Natasha Fiame had 11 kills and three block assists.
Marissa Charley led Bethany with five block assists. The Swedes finished with 10 blocks overall.
Opal Drapeau (28) and Karissa Chapman (20) accounted for 48 of Bethany's 54 assists.
McPherson closes out the regular season with a trip to Winfield Friday evening to face Southwestern College (3-24, 1-20 KCAC). First serve for the varsity-only match is slated for 7 p.m. Having already locked up a spot in the upcoming KCAC Tournament, the Bulldogs will be seeded either fourth or fifth. A win over the Lady Builders coupled with a loss by Oklahoma Wesleyan University (19-10, 15-6 KCAC) at Tabor (21-9, 16-5 KCAC) will leave McPherson as the No. 4 seed. McPherson is the No. 5 seed with any other result.