HUTCHINSON—McPherson College Volleyball team claimed the second annual Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) Fall Fling title after defeating Kansas Wesleyan, 3-1, in the Gold Bracket championship match Saturday evening on Sam Butterfield Court at Hutchinson Sports Arena. The Red and White won by scores of 23-25, 25-23, 25-18 and 26-24.
At 4-0, coach Jessica Cleveland has McPherson off to its best start since 2014, when the Bulldogs also won four-straight to open their campaign. Cleveland is just three wins shy of 50 for her career.
With its win, McPherson ended a 15-match losing streak to Kansas Wesleyan (3-2) dating back to 2010 on the same day it ended a 15-match skid to Ottawa (Kan.), the 23rd-ranked team in the NAIA, that went back to 2011.
"I'm so proud of these ladies," Cleveland said. "It was a tough (tournament) schedule going up against teams ranked Nos. 1, 2 and 4 in the preseason. With most of our team returning (from 2017), we picked up where we left off, and we got better at mentally winning matches."
Bree Wallace poured in a career-high 19 kills, posting a .405 hitting percentage in the triumph. Lexi Kite recorded her third double-double (12 kills, 23 digs) this season. Riley Bradbury tallied 11 kills, while Leia Seiler had nine.
With 1,107 career kills, Kite is 37 shy of passing Jessica Miller for second in school history and 90 from breaking Erica Alvarez's school record of 1,196. Kite surpassed 1,000 digs for her career and now has 1,018, becoming only the second player in program history along with Erica Alvarez (1,196 kills, 1,103 digs) to surpass the 1,000-mark plateau in career kills and digs.
Seiler has now played in 338 career games, moving past Kelsey Crist for 11th all-time.
Jamie Siess came up with 29 digs, while Rianne Richard had 17. Siess is 216 digs away from 1,000 for her career.
Kaitlyn Heinis netted a double-double (12 digs, 29 assists) for the Red and White. Skylar Lane dished out 27 assists.
With 1,218 career assists, Heinis is 413 shy of moving past Melinda Trevino for second in McPherson history.
Devrie Sombers (6) and Wallace (4) combined for 10 of the team's 16 block assists.
Shaelyn Martin registered 15 kills in defeat.
Kansas Wesleyan led 12-6 in game one after a Bulldogs attack error. McPherson later closed within one after trailing 23-18 by scoring five of six points, but an Angeleah Stierlen kill gave the Coyotes their only set win in the match.
The Bulldogs scored six-straight points in game two during a stretch where Cleveland's squad tallied 12 of 15 to stake to a 17-10 advantage following a Kite kill. Trailing 24-19, Kansas Wesleyan reeled off four-straight points, but a Heinis kill tied the match at one.
McPherson scored four-straight points in set three to grab a 10-4 upper hand after a Siess kill. Another 4-0 spurt swelled the Bulldogs advantage to nine, 15-6, following a Bradbury kill. The Coyotes trimmed their deficit to 23-18 using a 5-0 spurt, but two Wallace kills put the Red and White ahead in the match by a game.
McPherson led 8-6 in game four after Kite and Sombers combined for a block of a Stierlen attack attempt. Nine ties and six lead changes ensued before a Bradbury kill tied the set at 24, as the Bulldogs never again trailed. Kills by Seiler and Kite finished off Kansas Wesleyan.
McPherson travels to Baker (Kan.) on Wednesday, Aug. 29. First serve is set for 7 p.m. CT.