Experienced Tigers set to go | RecordCourier.com

Experienced Tigers set to go

Shelby Van Winkle sets the ball against Damonte Ranch during a match last season for the Douglas Tigers.
Jim Grant | Record-Courier

Nothing could be more exciting right now to Douglas High volleyball coach Suzi Townsell than the anticipation of watching her team open its season this coming weekend at the Las Vegas Invitational?

Well, how about the possibility of ending the season in Las Vegas at the state tournament?

“That would be even better,” Townsell said, laughing.

All kidding aside, however, the prospects for a successful playoff run are entirely possible for a Douglas team that has 10 returnees and a half dozen players with starting experience. Then again, that explains why Townsell is so excited about starting the season Friday and Saturday at the Las Vegas tournament.

“That’ll be a good test,” Townsell said. “We haven’t gone to Vegas in a couple of years, so I’m very excited to go back down there and see what these girls are going to show.”

The Tigers are definitely looking to improve on a 2012 season in which they had an 11-15 overall record and finished third in the Sierra League.

And the optimism starts with a nucleus of third-year varsity seniors: Sage Pintler, Shelby Van Winkle and Katie McCullough. McCullough figures to be a force in the middle after leading the Tigers in kills (157) and blocks (54.5) last year. Van Winkle was a second-team all-league setter with 372 assists and showed all-around skills that resulted in 82 kills, 122 digs, 29 aces and 120 service points.

Senior left outside hitter Kristina Barnum is another player to watch, according to Townsell.

Depth is another key ingredient for this Douglas team, the coach added.

“What’s going on this year is we have some depth that we haven’t had in the last couple of years. It seems like whoever I put in, they’re getting the job done right now.”

As for those postseason prospects, the Northern Division I competition looks like it could be a real dog fight. Complicating matters even further, the North will only send one representative to the state tournament.

“It’ll be hard,” Townsell said. “There are teams like Galena, Spanish Springs (defending state champion), McQueen, Reno and Manogue. I’ve talked to the other coaches already and we all agree it’s going to be wide open. It’ll be interesting to see what it comes down to at the end.”