CLEARWATER — When Rose Hill’s No. 1-ranked and defending Class 4A Division I state champion volleyball team dominated McPherson High recently in the Roundhouse, there was no indication the Bullpups would have a chance against the Rockets in Tuesday’s rematch.
Rose Hill allowed only 16 points in the two matches and left the Bullpups emotionally shaken as they left the court simply overwhelmed by the powerful Rocket attack.
But the second match represented a new day and MHS, coming off a strong performance in its own invitational over the weekend with five wins in six matches, played with a resolve the likes not seen all year.
MHS stunned the Rockets by ending their 48-match winning streak with a 25-13, 18-25, 25-20 win, sending shockwaves throughout Kansas that, yes, Rose Hill can be beaten on any given night and is not invincible.
“Our mental mindset this game versus Rose Hill was almost polar opposite of the first matchup,” MHS coach Christy Doile said. “(Assistant) Coach (Cheryl) Malm and I worked on developing our game plan for tonight and part of that plan was pointing out to our players on video where and how Rose Hill scored points. The first matchup, we had several unforced errors, we were undisciplined on our positional assignments given in first game plan, coupled with our poor mental approach. We gave the players our updated game plan. This time they executed and brought the correct mental approach. Super proud of the girls for executing mentally and physically everything we asked of them against a very good team.”
The Bullpups shocked the Rockets by dominating the first set, but as with any great team, they stormed back to even the match. But MHS sped out to a 5-0 third-set lead and managed to fend off the Rockets’ numerous runs.
“We were up as many as 5 points, if not more,” Doile said. “I called timeout at 18-16 or 19-17 after Rose Hill starts to go on a run, closing our gap, (as) we started to become hesitant. I challenged and demanded our team to fight back, to go back to that aggressive mindset we had earlier. Whoa, did they respond, they came out of that timeout fighting to win this match.”
Earlier, the Bullpups had tuneup with a pair of 25-10 successes against Clearwater.
Elle Barrett led in kills with 23, followed by Andrea Sweat with 17 and Cassie Cooks with 8. Jaycee Burghart notched 50 assists, while Bailea Crist had 20 digs, while Michaela Bowers and Barrett had 18 and 14 respectively. Sweat led in blocks with 4.
The MHS JVs had a rare double setback, losing to Clearwater (13-25, 28-30) and Rose Hill (23-25, 22-25).
MHS will enjoy some much-needed rest for the remainder of the week as it doesn’t play again until Tuesday when it’s home for the final time against Buhler and El Dorado. The Bullpups are 32-5 overall and already have clinched the Division III championship as they are 8-0 in Division III play.