McPherson College’s first-year volleyball coach Jessica Cleveland will lead her new team into action tonight against her old team.
Cleveland, who has taken over as head coach for Susan Barton, will get a better idea how far along her team is when it has a scrimmage against Hesston College, which she was the head coach for last year.
The scrimmage in Hesston has a 6:30 p.m. start.
The Bulldogs are coming off an intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday at the Sport Center, which drew a vast number of student spectators no doubt intrigued by the Bulldogs’ prospects.
“We ran our Red and Black scrimmage through a draft between two of my assistants so I could sit back and observe what we needed to work on,” Cleveland said. “I was impressed with how quickly everyone picked up the new man-up defense and applied it in the match, adding up a lot more digs than we used to get. I was also impressed with the talking and energy they brought to the game. That is the hardest thing to coach and they naturally have it. All of the newcomers came in and weren’t afraid to be leaders and talk.”
The scrimmage completed a whirlwind first week for the Bulldogs, who are picked eighth in the KCAC preseason poll.
“The first week went really well,” Cleveland said. “They all came in in shape, so that gave me more time with a ball instead of conditioning. About 95 percent of them passed their fitness test the first time. They came on campus with a new culture and being very coachable to accomplish the direction we are trying to go right away. We have a solid 15 returners that had a full spring season with me and we were able to pick up where we left off. After Mac finished last (in the KCAC) in the 2015 season we were preseason picked No. 8 in the coaches polls. This tells me that some coaches have their eye on the progress we have already made.”
The Bulldogs open the regular season on Friday in Marshall, Mo. as they’ll play two matches and then two more on Saturday. Friday’s matches are against national power Oklahoma City University and Central Methodist, while Saturday’s matches are against Avila and Missouri Valley as the Bulldogs are playing a high level of competition to open the season.