The Collins-Maxwell volleyball program is hoping to make a strong first impression in 2017.

The Spartans are starting their first year as a program after the school ended its sports sharing agreement with Baxter at the conclusion of the 2016-17 athletic season.

“Our athletes, families, and communities as well as the staff at school are excited for this opportunity and the support has been so overwhelming and positive,” Collins-Maxwell head volleyball coach Nicole Detlinger said. “I really feel good heading into the new season with all of the changes that have taken place, and I know my athletes are really looking forward to this inaugural year as Spartans.”

Detlinger said so far things have gone well for her first-year program.

“I’m really positive,” Detlinger said. “We’ve had a good couple of weeks of practices, and the girls are working really hard. They’re taking direction well, and we’re noticing how much harder they’re pushing themselves to really work on building their skills.”

Collins-Maxwell won’t be strong in numbers. There are only eight players on the varsity roster.

“We have some athletes that are participating in more than one sport this season (dual sports),” Detlinger said, “so we want everyone to be healthy and injury free as much as possible.”

But the Spartans do possess enough talent to make some noise in their first season of competition in the Iowa Star Conference.

Senior middle hitter Brianda Bane was an all-Heart of Iowa Conference honorable mention pick last season for Collins-Maxwell-Baxter. Bane had 277 kills with a .324 kill-efficiency rate and she also racked up 58 blocks, 52 digs and 35 aces.

Senior Katie Camp will step in at setter for the Spartans. Last year at CMB Camp played in the back row, totaling 43 digs.

Juniors Gracie Cheville and Josie Wierson will compete at outside hitter. In 2016 for CMB Cheville had 29 digs and five kills and Wierson two kills.

Sophomore Jillian Holst will provide support at both outside hitter and setter. Junior Hannah Caple will anchor the back row at the libero position.

Sophomore Trinity Stover and freshman Elise Robinson will be counted on to provide depth.

In ISC play Detlinger said Janesville and Tripoli will be favored in the North Division and North Tama and GMG in the South Division.

Outside of the conference Collins-Maxwell will partake in three Saturday tournaments plus a quadrangular at Madrid on Sept. 11. The Spartans also face Ogden and Saydel.

“Some of our goals include getting used to playing in our new conference as well as playing (Class) 1A volleyball versus 2A volleyball that we played when we were CMB,” Detlinger said. “I would say instead of focusing on key matches, we’re really going to look at our first couple of weeks of match play to determine how the rest of the season will take shape. We’re a new team, so we’re just going to focus on one match at a time.”

Collins-Maxwell opens the season next Monday at Ogden. The Spartans will host Waterloo Christian for their home opener in Maxwell on Sept. 7.