The McPherson Bulldogs took the first round of their 2018 home-and-home volleyball series with in-county rival Bethany College on Friday evening with a three-set sweep in Hahn Gymnasium in Lindsborg. With its second three-set sweep of the week (25-19, 25-17, and 25-14), the Bulldogs raised their season record to 14-1 and they're putting real pressure on the national raters to award the Bulldogs with a spot in next week's NAIA's top 25 poll after receiving votes in the initial 2018 NAIA national weekly poll.
In set one, Bethany kept it interesting after going on a 6-0 run to take a lead at 15-14, but four kills by Bree Wallace and a pair by Leia Seiler powered a 10-4 McPherson run which finished off the 25-19 opening win. Wallace led the way with six kills while Seiler and Lexi Kite each contributed three. Skylar Lane and Kaitlyn Heinis keyed the Bulldog offense with seven and five assists, respectively. Defensively, Kite and Jamie Siess (JR, Tecumseh, Kan., Shawnee Heights HS) picked up seven and six digs apiece.
The Swedes led early on in set two, but after the Bulldogs took the lead at 6-5, they trailed again on their way to the 25-17 win. With Siess on the line serving, McPherson closed out the set by sandwiching a team block by Wallace and Devrie Sombers between kills by Wallace and Riley Bradbury.
McPherson trailed only twice (0-1 and 1-2) in set three. The Bulldogs took their first lead of the set at 3-2 on a service ace by Rianne Richard and that set the tone for the set as Heinis added two more aces and Kite one as McPherson built a four-point margin which the Bulldogs then expanded and maintained at seven or eight points before closing out the 25-14 win on the service of Lane and kills by Bradbury and Wallace. Bradbury led the McPherson offense with four kills while Kite, Sombers, and Wallace each contributed three.
Bree Wallace's 13 kills off a .522 hitting percentage along with Lexi Kite's 10 kills plus six kills by Riley Bradbury and five by Devrie Sombers off of 19 and 13 assists by Skylar Lane and Kaitlyn Heinis, respectively, topped the Bulldog offense. Kite and Jamie Siess led the McPherson defense picking up 18 and 11 digs a piece. Sombers and Wallace each had one solo and a pair of assisted blocks.
"Bethany College always has a loud crowd, but we did a nice job of blocking out their big home crowd," noted coach Jessica Cleveland afterwards."Bethany was tough defensively at the net, but with our consistent passing led by (Bree) Wallace and (Lexi) Kite leading the defense, we pulled out the W in three sets."
The Bulldogs' next match will be a KCAC encounter next Wednesday, September 19, at Tabor College in Hillsboro, scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. start. McPherson turned back the Blue Jays in three straight sets in a non-KCAC match in the Sport Center on Sept. 5. McPherson returns to the Sport Center on Saturday, Sept. 22, in a 5:00 p.m. non-conference match with Wayland Baptist.