The Collins-Maxwell volleyball team will attempt to keep the winning tradition it started a year ago going in 2018.

In 2017, the Spartans were an 18-8 squad as a first-year program. Collins-Maxwell took third in the Iowa Star Conference South Division with a 6-2 record and reached the Class 1A regional second round, where it fell to traditional power North Tama.

The Spartans are hoping to carry that momentum over into 2018.

It won’t be easy with the loss of star middle hitter Brianda Bane and setter Katie Camp. But with everyone else returning, Collins-Maxwell still has the weapons to be a force in the ISC.

“I hope to build on what we achieved last year,” Collins-Maxwell head volleyball coach Nicole Dentlinger said. “I know our athletes would like to again have a winning season and finish in first or second place in our conference. We only graduated two seniors from last season, and even though they will be missed, I’ve seen this year’s seniors step up more.”

The top returning players for Collins-Maxwell this season are seniors Gracie Cheville, Josie Wierson and Hannah Caple, along with juniors Jillian Holst and Trinity Stover.

Cheville will play all the way around and she had 195 digs, 119 kills, 25 aces and six blocks a year ago.

Wierson will be a weapon at middle hitter after picking up 105 kills, 100 digs, 32 aces and 26 blocks last year and Caple returns at libero after delivering 277 digs and 29 aces a year ago.

Holst came up with 116 digs, 48 kills, 16 aces and 12 blocks last year and she will help out both at setting and hitting. Stover put up 19 digs, 11 blocks and seven kills last year and she will be counted on at the right side.

Sophomore Reagan Franzen gives the program a talented newcomer. Dentlinger said she will play at setter and hitter.

Juniors Brailyn Tankersley and Jaden Camp, and sophomores Elise Robertson and Brooke Christie will also be counted on to contribute.

“This year I’m really hoping to see some more leadership on the team,” Dentlinger said. “I’m hoping some of the younger athletes take more ownership in their own abilities and develop a sense of leadership to want to encourage their own teammates to be better.”

Better communication will be a key in the Spartans’ ability to continue their winning ways.

“Getting the girls to talk more and communicate to work together seems to be something we’re continually working on,” Dentlinger said.

The Spartan coach said she expects North Tama to be the favorite in the ISC South Division. But she said her team is looking to move up at least one spot in the final conference standings, and also perform at a higher level in regionals.

“Last year we finished third in the ISC South behind North Tama and Baxter,” Dentlinger said. “I know both of those teams can be competitive, but we’re looking at taking one of those top spots this season. Our athletes would like to get past the second round of regionals this season. They had set a goal to get past first round last year and achieved it, so we’re going to continue to build off that.”

Collins-Maxwell’s season begins Aug. 30 with a home match versus Des Moines East.