There’s nothing like the first match of the season to provide a true measuring stick.
When McPherson High’s volleyball team begins pool play in Saturday’s Salthawk Preseason Tournament at Hutchinson, it will be staring across the net at a ranked team like itself.
MHS takes on Newton in the 8 a.m. early bird special, with the Bullpups the No. 4 team in the Class 4A Division I preseason poll while Newton is No. 8 in Class 5A. MHS’ other matches in pool play are against 5A schools Salina South and Liberal, so tournament organizers did the Bullpups no favors as they’ll need to be ready from the get-go.
“Nothing like a packed tournament of ranked teams for a preseason tournament,” MHS coach Christy Doile said. “The goals are to get better every match and compete.”
The Bullpups certainly should do more than compete. Doile will be using the tournament somewhat as an evaluation process as she has a lot of players battling for playing time.
“We've been working on our lineups and we are starting to see a glimpse of our 2015 team,” Doile said of practices.
Any lineup she puts on the floor will include Megan Pedersen and Magan Alexander, both no doubt among the Top 10 players in 4A D-I.
“Magan and Megan can be very powerful and explosive,” Doile said.
The 10th-year MHS head coach, however, has seen other players step up. Rachel Dossett and Mandi Cooks give the Bullpups even more height at the net. Dossett has especially presented her case with authority.
“Dossett is playing a pretty fierce middle at practice,” Doile said.
Passing will be a key for the team as Doile try to figure out who will emerge as the most dependable setters.
The Bullpups went 5-1 in this tournament last year, the only loss coming to Andover Central.
The Bullpups go to Buhler on Tuesday as the season revs up in a hurry. El Dorado will be the third team in the triangular.