The numbers tell the story of the Archbishop Thomas Murphy volleyball team.
When first-year coach Mike Bettinghouse met his prospective players for the first time, he was overwhelmed by the interest among the student body.
Forty-one players turned out for the team, which according to Bettinghouse amounted to about 20 percent of the female enrollment at the Class 1A school.
It took a while but Bettinghouse finally whittled down the numbers to a more manageable 24 to be split among the varsity and junior varsity teams.
“It was tough,” Bettinghouse said of the cuts. “There was a lot of good talent coming in.”
Archbishop Murphy is Bettinghouse’s first head coaching position. He earned All-American honors at Pepperdine University, was a member of the U.S. National team and also played professionally for a couple of years.
The Wildcats bring back senior setter Molly Reynolds, who Bettinghouse described as a strong leader. Much of the offensive is expected to revolve around junior Kyla Thompson and sophomore standout Lisa Coate.
“We’ve got a wonderful core of returning varsity (players) and then we’ve got some great young players that have been a very pleasant surprise,” Bettinghouse said.
Archbishop Murphy will be able to field a towering lineup featuring several players who are 5-foot-10 or taller.
“A lot of them are basketball players, so they’re very athletic,” Bettinghouse said. “I’m still getting to know them.”
The Wildcats (3-10 overall) finished near the bottom of the standings in the Northwest 1A League a year ago. A repeat performance seems unlikely considering their wealth of talent.
“Our goal is to make districts,” Bettinghouse said. “I think that’s a realistic goal, given the core returning varsity and some of the freshmen coming in. I think we’re going to have a real solid team.”
Bettinghouse expects the Wildcats to remain competitive for a few seasons. Four freshmen and three sophomores are among the players on varsity.
“We’ve got a good young program and we’re looking forward to many years of success,” Bettinghouse said.