The McPherson High volleyball team lost a lot of talent from a 38-8 team last year.

The Bullpups have tons of athleticism and a solid returning cast, but yet there are still question marks surrounding this team, who start the season in as tough a way imaginable.

The Bullpups travel to Hutchinson on Saturday, to participate in the AVCTL Preseason Tournament. The tournament consists of 16 of the best teams from Division I, II, and III, separated into four pools.

The Bullpups are in Pool D, with Campus, Maize and Valley Center. Maize is coming off a trip to the 5A State Tournament, while Valley Center is a perennial threat in 5A.

“Every year the preseason invite is loaded,” head coach Christy Doile said. “Lots of great competition right out of the gate. Our goal is to make the top court, and finish as high as we can.”

The Bullpups will attempt to replace two All-State First Team members in Megan Pedersen and Magan Alexander, and three other key seniors.

The Bullpups return three starters, and a slew of players that saw significant time last season. Those new players will have a tough opening tournament, which should only make them better.

Doile says her younger players need to adjust to the speed of the game, and to be more consistent and recover quicker after a mistake.

“This is not just for the younger players, but for our older players playing varsity for the first time,” Doile said. “We are going to see what line up will work better.”

The Bullpups are the only team from AVCTL DIII, as the majority teams are from DI and DII. McPherson and Andover Central are the only two teams from 4A in a pool loaded with 6A and 5A state contenders.

“We are going to see what level we can compete at,” Doile said. “We are going to see which kids step up in their new roles.”

The Bullpups begin play at 8 a.m. against Campus.

Contact Gallagher Martin by email at gmartin@mcphersonsentinel.com and follow him on Twitter @GMartinSentinel