It’s almost time for Leslie Joshua to start her first year as North Little Rock’s volleyball coach.

The preseason has been normal as far as scheduling is concerned. After coming from Ridge Road, only the location has changed for her.

Team camp at Benton and two-a-day practices culminate in a benefit match at Conway on Aug. 22 before the Lady Wampus Cats make a return visit to North Little Rock for the regular season opener.

That will make three times the Lady Charging Wildcats will see Conway in the month of August. The Lady Wampus Cats won a three-team jamboree at Benton last week.

Joshua said her emphasis has been keeping her team focused from start to finish.

"We have been working on keeping up their intensity," Joshua said, "and keeping them focused throughout practice."

Getting them to repeat tasks in drills and in teamwork has been a bit of a challenge, especially from the young players. Joshua expects at least four sophomores to start at any given time during the season.

What Joshua wants to prevent is for any lack of focus and intensity to carry over on game night.

The Lady Charging Wildcats face some tough teams and Joshua doesn’t want that focus to wane if they find themselves down.

"We want them to be able to do what we are supposed to do when we get down in a game," Joshua said.

By the same token, if the Lady Charging Wildcats find themselves ahead, Joshua doesn’t want that lack of intensity to cost matches they should win.

Joshua said she would rely on senior Jessica Crow for leadership.

"She’s played a lot," Joshua said, "and she is my most vocal leader, plus she’s a setter so she’s my quarterback."

North Little Rock only has a pair of games to tune up for the 7A/6A-East slate. After Conway, the Lady Charging Wildcats take on Mt. St. Mary’s before going immediately into league play.