Jonesboro players Alana Wester, left, and Ganelle Corbett look on as a teammate prepares to serve in a recent home match against Riverdale earlier this week. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)
JONESBORO — Jonesboro volleyball coach Dan Maehlman has a pretty good hunch that his team has made some big strides since the beginning of the season.
He will see how far the Cardinals have come this weekend when they head to a tournament in Conyers.
The Cardinals will play in the Harley Davidson Spike Fest beginning this evening at Heritage High. They open with a familiar opponent in Area 4-AAAA foe Woodland at 5 p.m. today. The second game will be against Harris County followed by a match against Greenbrier.
Woodland is ranked No. 8 in the PrepCountry.com Coaches Poll with a 16-5 record. Earlier this season, Woodland defeated Jonesboro in an area matchup.
But the Wolfpack will see a different team this time around.
“We are starting to play more as a team,” Jonesboro coach Dan Maehlman said. “We have gotten better as the season has gone on. We are still not there yet, but I have seen a lot of improvement.”
Also, three players that didn’t play in the first Woodland matchup will be available this time. In the earlier match-up, Jonesboro seniors did not play after a one-match suspension.
“We will be a different team this time,” senior Kendall Thomas said. “They didn’t see the seniors the last time. I think it is going to be a fun match. I have a lot of faith in my teammates.”
The tournament will feature 30 teams from around the state, including teams in all six classifications. Maehlman said about 15-20 of the teams are ranked in their respective classification.
“This is a huge and big test for our team,” Maehlman said. “This will definitely prepare us for our area tournament. I’m not as concerned with us winning it, but more so looking at how we play.”
Following this tournament, the Cardinals will host the 10-team Clayton County Championship next weekend in a double elimination tournament.
But the first order of business is the upcoming tournament against some solid competition.
“This tournament will certainly prepare us for the rest of the season,” senior Ganelle Richardson said. “We are playing together as a team now.”