McPherson High volleyball coach Christy Doile has been used to having a set lineup.
But this season is different, as she must replace five seniors who were at the epicenter of outstanding teams that established permanent residence in the Class 4A state rankings the past three years.
Doile’s Bullpups open the season Saturday in the annual Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League Preseason Tournament at the Hutchinson Salthawk Activity Center. MHS plays six matches and is the only Division III school, as the 13 Division I and II schools complete the 14-team field.
“We are working hard on building our lineups for Saturday,” said Doile, whose team is 125-12 over the past three years, including a 2012 state championship. “We acknowledge with only having two starters returning there is competition for those open spots. The girls are doing a good job of competing and building our possible lineups.”
The Bullpups, who were ranked No. 1 most of last year on their way to a 39-4 record, have completed their first week of practice and Doile said she’s been pleased with what she’s seen.
“The girls have been very business-like and serious at practice, they understand the importance of these first couple weeks,” Doile said.
Hannah Marshall, Megan Pedersen and Magan Alexander are the team’s most experienced players and sure-fire lineup locks. There are a number of candidates for the other three spots and it may take a few matches for things to sort themselves out. With so many matches Saturday, Doile can use the day as an evaluation process.
The real battle is on for the middle two positions. A surprise has been Rachel Dossett, who has worked into contention to push Katlyn Ruth, Taylor Metz and Ashtyn Schieferecke.
The Bullpups have been working on all phases of the game.
“We've been working really hard on our serving, reducing our errors and raising our team serving percentage,” Doile said. “A huge emphasis has been on serve receiving and digging to target.”
The tourney fires up at 8 a.m., with the Bullpups’ first match starting approximately 9 a.m. against Andover Central. Matches are on the first open court, and MHS’ other matches are against Campus, Goddard Eisenhower, Salina South, Salina Central and Newton.