Although Coach Jayme McCoy lost all her starters but one from last year’s volleyball team, she is excited about the possibilities for this season. The Hornets began the season yesterday at Heber Springs.

"The senior leadership is phenomenal," McCoy said. "The girls have to run a 10-minute mile, and all three of them were done in eight and a half to nine minutes. They then ran the rest of the time with the other girls motivating them. They keep people up instead of being negative. They are team builders all the way."

The three seniors are Madeline Laster, Natalie Cochran and Renae Barr. Laster will start and is one of the Hornet setters. Both Cochran and Barr will see playing time with Cochran as a setter/outside hitter and Barr at an outside hitter position.

The lone returning starter is junior Desire Smith (6-foot-0 middle blocker). Smith was named all-state, all-conference and to the conference all-tournament team last season. In addition to Laster, junior Kristen Black and sophomore Kayla Gray should start. McCoy is not sure who the other starting spots will go to but has plenty of sophomores from which to choose.

"The other two to three positions are not really set," she said. "I have a whole lot of talent which is a good problem to have. I’ll get to see girls in the junior varsity game and can make changes."

McCoy is keeping 19 girls for junior varsity and varsity. Because of the numbers, she has the luxury of pulling players who have attitude issues. In the past, that has been a problem, but she didn’t have the extra players to sit girls.

However, she is hoping for another direction and thinks the seniors are the keys.

"Our strength is our hustle and heart," McCoy said. "I’ve yet to have a group with this much hustle and heart. The positive attitudes are phenomenal. The seniors are phenomenal young ladies both on the court and in the classroom. I have a great group of girls."

With so many sophomores, McCoy knows youth will be a disadvantage and says the jump from freshman to varsity is huge.

"It’s a different level and the game is quicker," she said. "The fact of our youth is a good weakness."