By William for

(Post is Sponsored by CrossDove Writers)

NEWTON – With just one more regular season match to play, the McPherson Middle School seventh-grade volleyball team did close out tournament play for 2019 by taking second-place by a score differential at the round robin style Pioneer League Tournament in Newton on Saturday.

The Lady Junior Pups began Saturday morning by playing some of their best volleyball when they handled Newton in straight sets (25-16, 25-11) and Salina Lakewood (25-22, 25-16) to be 2-0 to start the tournament.

“We played well in the morning by taking down Newton and Salina Lakewood,” explained seventh-grade Head Coach Shelley Bohme. “Kelby (Boughfman) and Josie (Fitzmorris) put together some nice serving runs in both of those matches while Izabel (Backhus) and Kenzi (Kaufman) gave us some great passing on the back row.”

The remainder of the day did not go has hoped as McPherson scored a 25-18 first set win over eventual tournament champion Hutchinson before falling short in the final two sets (18-25, 12-15) to lose their first match of the day.

In their final match of the tournament, the Lady Junior Pups once again gained a first set victory (25-23) over Salina South by the skin of their teeth, before losing in the same manner the final two sets (22-25, 12-15) to lose their second match of the day.

“Hutchinson and Salina South were definitely tougher competition,” added Coach Bohme. “Those two teams had gone to three sets against each other in the morning, with Hutchinson coming out on top, while Salina South lost to Newton in three sets.”

Breaking down the match with Hutchinson, Coach Bohme continued by saying, “We came out and played with a lot of energy in set one against Hutchinson, forcing them to burn their time-outs pretty quickly. There were some great rallies and we covered their tips well while taking advantage of their mistakes. Kelby (Boughfman) and Addison (Chapman) served well in that set and did a nice job of setting the ball up to our hitters. It was like a switch flipped in set two as we lost some momentum and they were the ones stringing points together. I was extremely proud of the fight the girls showed in set three after getting down 2-6 early and then taking an 11-8 lead. Ultimately, we had a few too many unforced errors that cost us.”

“The match against Salina South was tight the entire way,” continued Coach Bohme. “I felt like we used a lot of our energy in the Hutchinson match, and just ran out of gas in set three. We had several dropped balls and hits that went in the net. Those two losses were tough, especially dropping another one to Hutchinson after we lost to them a couple of weeks ago in three close sets as well.”

Summing up the tournament itself, Coach Bohme pointed out, “Our long day of volleyball did not end the end the way we wanted, but due to a three-way tie for second place that had to be figured by score differential, we came away with second place! Every team in our league has improved tremendously, which made several matches go to three sets.”

Coach Bohme concluded her post-tournament reflections by talking about her team, saying, “It’s truly amazing to see how much the girls have improved. Cora (Pavlovich) was outstanding on defense and started to get some things figured out at the net, really making some clutch plays in the afternoon. Haley (Hagemann) also had some amazing digs and great hits, despite struggling with serving. Josie (Fitzmorris) and Addie (Herrera) were solid at the net all day while Addie, Haley and Cora each got a block. Kenzi (Kaufman) and Izabel (Backhus) really stepped up with their back-row attacks today. Kelby (Boughfman) and Addison (Chapman) both hustled all over the floor and Addison is showing her versatility as a hitter as well. We finish out our season with a home triangular on Monday and have a goal to work on being mentally tough when we make a mistake or get down.”

The Lady Junior Pups are now 20-5 for the season and like Coach Bohme noted, will close out the 2019 season on Monday when they play host to a triangular with Salina Lakewood and Chapman.

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