Bulldog seniors step up in clutch
Dramatic night for McLouth seniors
The McLouth High volleyball team rallied for a Senior Night victory against K.C. Christian on Tuesday night.
Things were about to end all wrong.
It was Senior Night at McLouth High and the volleyball team was on the brink of a loss.
But it was at that point — with emotions bubbling under the surface — that the Bulldogs pulled together to knock off K.C. Christian and finish the night with a pair of wins when they really needed them.
Trailing 23-21 in the third game of the Oct. 6 match, McLouth scored the next four points, primarily thanks to some outstanding defense at the net. A block from senior Taylor Rush tied the match at 23. Then fellow senior Cassidy Bristol came up with blocks on KCC kill attempts to score the Bulldogs’ match-clenching points.
As a senior playing her last home match, Bristol said it doesn’t get much better than that.
“It put a smile on my face — big time,” she said.
Bristol and her teammates were overwhelmed in the moments following the victory. Smiles remained but tears joined the party as the players both celebrated their victory and realized it was their last time playing together in the MHS gym.
“It just hit me at the end, like man, this is it,” Bristol said.
Senior Kylie Shufflebarger said the team was frustrated earlier in the night. The Bulldogs were a few days removed from a 1-4 showing at the Valley Falls tournament and lost their first game of the evening to Doniphan West. But the team picked up its play, defeated the Mustangs and rallied to knock off a tough Panthers team.
“We just wanted to win, go out with a bang,” said Shufflebarger, who did a bit of everything — from assists, to blocks, tips and kills — against KCC.
With the support of seniors Courtney Chilcoat, Alexa DePriest, Bristol, Rush and Shufflebarger, the Bulldogs were determined to win. Their leadership and want-to rubbed off on younger teammates as Jeri Holwick, Jessie Troupe, Terri Stewart, Katy Perry and Logan Terry matched their intensity.
With Bristol, Shufflebarger and Rush making plays at the net, and Chilcoat setting up the offense and making digs defensively, MHS coach Erika Houk said the seniors’ playmaking was the difference in the come-from-behind victory.
“I think it’s just that chemistry they have with each other — the heart and love for the game,” Houk said.
In the final set of the evening, the match could have gone either way. There were eight lead changes and eight separate tie scores before the Bulldogs’ defense ended the night in spectacular fashion.
Shufflebarger said it wasn’t easy.
“It takes a lot of heart, but we have that,” she said after registering 37 kills in the team’s two Senior Night wins.
The most impressive part was how the players kept their composure and their emotions under wraps until the match was officially over.
“I don’t know how they did it,” Houk said.
And it made for a memorable finish.
“Everybody will be able to remember this night in a good way,” Shufflebarger said.
Bristol agreed, already looking back fondly on her winning block.
“I’ll never forget that,” she said, “because it’s my Senior Night.”