The McPherson High School volleyball hosted its annual home invitational on Saturday, and finished the weekend with the 2-3 record, placing sixth.

The Bullpups had to were thrown right to the fire early on as they took some state-worthy teams in their pool play. During game one, the Bullpups lost to top-seed Bishop Carrol High School in game one (24-26, 19-25). Then the Bullpups fall to Garden Plain High School in game two (18-25, 17-25).

"We fought and played well all of set one, and 18-17 in set two. It wasn't until the very end that Carroll's serve kept us out of the system. We couldn't get a swing before they did, plus we added a few unforced errors," McPherson's Head coach Christy Doile said. "Garden Plain would go three sets, and we were in a position to win the match, but their offense led by their outside hitters beat our block/dig defense. Their outside hitters put the ball down, and they had a scrappy back-row that was digging up our swings."

McPherson was able to pick up its first win over Salina South High School in a three-set match to complete the pool bracket (23-25, 25-20, 25-19), and then get a convincing win over Nickerson High School (25-22, 27-25) before falling to Hutchinson High School in the battle for fifth place.

"We fought through a mental win vs. Salina South, losing those tough matches back-to-back, knocked our confidence down a bit. By set three, we were back on track and carried it through Nickerson match," Doile said. "Hutchinson match, we never got rolling. The effort, the focus, the desire to compete from every member of our team wasn't there. I don't want to take away the credit to our players who are doing the right thing consistently. We appreciate their effort. As a team, we need to find a way that our entire team is a full effort, compete for every point."

Brette Doile was the Bullpups' top performer with 113 assists and tied for four aces. She also had the least amount of missed served all year after a strong performance. Rhian Swanson was the top hitter with 54 kills, while Cassie Cooks was second with 42. Coach Doile was also impressed by Katie Berg and her low-hitting efficiency. Taylor Casebeer led with 37 digs. Ella Schmid, who switched to the libero position after the Garden Plains match, came one dig behind Casebeer. Doile was also pleased by her Bullpups' maximum effort to getting to the ball and hitting the floor more. She hopes to see more consistency by the end of the season and the start of the postseason.

"We had some extreme hustle plays, where we had bodies diving on the floor," Doile said. "I had been pushing the team to hit the floor more, and you've got to try and get it up for us to have a chance. I saw kids choosing to hit the floor more often, instead of making the decision. I can't get that ball. We have to improve our blocking, digging and transition play to win these tough matches. Serving also needs to be more consistent."

Contact Peter Holland Jr. by email at pholland@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow him on Twitter@Petes_Picks_