The hazy boys volleyball picture may become clearer this weekend.
Not completely focused, but to where squinting isn’t required to make out the contenders.
Brophy’s annual tournament begins with pool play Friday and finishes up Saturday as eight of the top programs around the state participate.
Gilbert, Brophy, Desert Vista, Salpointe and Mountain Pointe are among the eight-team field.
“I don’t know if whoever wins this becomes the (state tournament) favorite, because you still have Mountain View, Hamilton, Mesquite out there,” Brophy coach Tony Oldani said, “but I certainly think it will give the team that wins it a great nudge of momentum in the middle of the season.”
The eventual state champion generally has played in this tournament, although Glendale Deer Valley bucked tradition last year by winning it all and not participating.
Coaches use the format in various ways. Since Friday’s pool play is simply for seeding, some will play reserves or tinker with strategy for down the road. Others, though, will keep in their starters for the majority of the games.
Since this tournament doesn’t count for power points any more, it allows some flexibility.
“It’s nice to have a Friday like that,” Desert Vista coach Ryan Tolman said. “It gives us a feel for who we are.”
Oldani said it is tough to name a favorite because of the way the year has gone, as teams have consistently taken turns beating each other.
He does like Mountain Pointe, since the Pride captured first place at the preseason Chandler Wolf Howl Invitational.
However, that tournament tends to have a different feel, as coaches are still figuring out their rosters.
“The Chandler tournament is a first look of who we are and what we have to address,” Oldani said. “We see our tournament as the next benchmark. What are the holes we have to fill?”
Highland won the Brophy Invitational last season and that catapulted the Hawks to the title match.
While this year seems more unpredictable, it’s certainly still a solid accomplishment to capture the tournament championship.
“I’m not going to say it’s everything, but I think it’s a pretty good (future) indicator,” Tolman said.