NEWTON — In a rematch of between state ranked teams, the Andale volleyball team delivered McPherson its first loss of the season in the Newton Invitational championship on Saturday.
The Bullpups, ranked 5th in 5A, started the year 15-0 before falling to Andale 25-18, 18-25, 25-19 in the finals. The Bullpups defeated Andale 25-23, 25-23 on Sept. 1.
"We didn’t play well in Set 1, it might have been our worst set of the season," McPherson head coach Christy Doile said. "In Set 2, we adjusted our defense and moved around our offense a bit more. In Set 3, we had a lead and couldn’t maintain it."
Andale, No. 1 in 4A, was led by the sister duo of Katelyn and McKenzie Fairchild in the championship match.
"The Fairchild sisters were offensively playing very well, and we had a hard time stopping them at the net," Doile said.
McPherson defeated Salina South 25-23, 25-16 in the opening round of pool play. Doile said her team commented better in the second set.
McPherson then defeated third-ranked Nickerson (4A), who was playing without star Ava Jones. The Bullpups won a decisive 25-8, 25-10 match.
"We were able to keep them out of system and we offensively dominated that match," Doile said.
Newton, unranked but 14-5 on the season, proved to be the toughest team McPherson faced in pool play. However, the Bullpups were able to win in straight sets 25-18, 25-21.
"Set 1 we had the lead, then Newton made a come back and led 20-18. We then were able to pull away," Doile said. "In Set 2, we had the lead and were able to maintain it."
Rhain Swanson had a team-high 71 kills on the day. Brette Doile led the Bullpups with 93 assists, while Swanson and Taylor Casebeer combined for 53 digs.
McPherson, now 15-1, turns around and travels to second-ranked Circle (4A) on Tuesday.
Playing without Jones, Nickerson went 1-3 at the Newton Invite. The Panthers lost to Andover Central, McPherson, and Newton in pool play, although Nickerson did take Newton to a third set, 17-25, 26-24, 25-11.
Nickerson rebounded against Salina South to end the day on a high note, picking up a 23-25, 25-17, 25-19 victory.
The Panthers are now 11-8 on the season and host Smoky Valley and Lyons in a triangular on Tuesday.