McPherson High’s girls volleyball team will jump right into action as it opens the season Saturday in the annual AVCTL Preseason Tournament at Hutchinson.
Veteran MHS coach Christy Doile put her team through the paces for the first time last week and realizes there’s precious little time to waste as every practice counts with opening day so close.
“We will be ready by Saturday to see where we are at and we’re looking forward to competing,” said Doile, who has led MHS to seven straight state appearances. “I tell myself and the team — every year at this time — relax, we actually have to October to have our game plan exactly perfect. This tournament is just part of helping us get to the final product. Every team playing on Aug. 26th with just two weeks of practice feels the anxiety of a new lineup, kids transitioning from the junior varsity to varsity level and kids competing for a starting spot.”
The Bullpups suffered a serious offseason blow when star hitter Mandi Cooks was lost for the year with an injury. Doile is looking to several players to assume a leadership role and was effusive in her praise of several after the first week.
“Elle Barrett is really doing a great job of dynamically carrying our offensive power and has earned a starting spot on defense as well,” Doile said. “Elle is a fun player to watch and even a better person to be around every day.
“Jaycee Burghart deserves credit as our unsung hero, she is running our offense, chasing down second balls, leading the team. She is so dependable and on point, our program gets used to her performance that they don't realize how much she is doing correctly and for this team. The team is so conditioned to what she does, I'm not sure they realize how lucky they are.
“Bailea Crist and Mickey Bowers have put up great defensive numbers as well, they both have stood out. I've been really pleased with their improvement from last season to this season. Mickey brings an upbeat vocal leadership, hustle attitude to the floor.
“Andrea Sweat is really going to drive other teams crazy with her blocking. Her timing and form has improved from last season. I'd add her confidence and leadership have also developed nicely.”
There are still many roles to be determined in the next five days.
“We will use the rest of the week to figure out the rest of hitting positions between Cassie Cooks, Kallie Jost, Kenzie Goering, Meghan Smith and Bowers, with finding outside hitter two our priority,” Doile said. “Again, we have to October to get it just right.”
Following Saturday’s tournament, the Bullpups are home Aug. 29 to take on Mulvane and Wellington.