After missing the state tournament last season, the McPherson High School volleyball team had state-championship aspirations in 2020.
The Bullpups came up short on those goals, but did end their season in the Class 4A state semifinals on Friday at the Hutchinson Sports Arena.
McPherson went 1-4 on the day and finished fourth. McPherson was one set away from securing a third-place finish, but a furious comeback from Ottawa left the Bullpups without state hardware.
"I thought I had the girls ready for the match," head coach Christy Doile said. "We came out in the first and I thought we were going to be focused."
In the third-place match, McPherson won the first set 25-9 over Ottawa. The Cyclones grabbed momentum with a 25-12 win in the second set.
The third set was competitive, and Ottawa held on for a 25-21 victory.
"I think we let up in the second set, then it was an equal match in the end," Doile said.
McPherson dropped to the third-place match with a 25-17, 25-13 loss to Andale in the semifinals. The Bullpups never led the entire match. Andale opened on a 5-0 run and led 16-10 at one point.
The Bullpups fought back to make it 18-15, but Andale closed the set on a 7-2 run.
McPherson was forced to burn timeouts down 11-7 and 17-10 in the second set. Eventually, Andale wore down the Bullpups and cruised to the finish line.
"They were scrappy for sure," Doile said. "They put their kids where they thought our balls would go."
McPherson went 1-2 in pool play with a 24-26, 25-21, 25-14 win over Ottawa, and straight-set losses against Miege (25-18, 25-14) and Andale (25-23, 25-15).
"Today had the atmosphere of a state tournament, but the format (playing five matches in one day) was different," Doile said. "It was harder because of the length of the day."
McPherson ends the season with a 34-7 record and graduates three seniors: Katie Berg, Megan Lulloff and Taylor Casebeer.
"They are kids that work hard, they are kids that have been in the program and done a lot to help us," Doile said. "We see them all summer in the weight room and on the court. They’re friends with the underclassmen. We’re going to miss their competitiveness and friendship."