The Minneola Wildcats girls volleyball team has come out of summer with some energy, and it’s left head coach Kitrina Schuette very excited about her first year as the team’s head coach.

"Just this first week I've seen a lot of things from the girls that even last year they weren't doing, definitely not this early in the season,” Schuette said.

Defensive play has been one of the main ones.

“They have stepped that up so much from when I watched them play last year, whether it's blocking or passing or whatever,” Schuette said. “They've stepped that up and we've got some really strong hitters too."

Over the summer, the team competed in Dodge City’s summer league, Schuette said, and they played well, while also growing as a team.

“We have some younger players that are stepping into a bigger role this year and my seniors and my juniors that have played there before, they're really just helping those girls to develop into their role on the team,” Schuette said.

The team has 17 players out right now, she said, meaning she’ll have enough for both a junior varsity and a varsity team. She plans to rotate some girls into different positions, such as her hitters which she said will play some back-row positions also.

Across sports, however, Schuette said she and other girls sports coaches are working to improve the girls’ confidence. She said she and head girls basketball coach Morgan McClaren discussed over the summer the goal of how to improve the girls’ confidence and help them believe they are as good as they are, while also not letting the kids get down on themselves whenever they made a single mistake.

"I'm already seeing so much more of that from this summer and our practices this week,” Schuette said.

Teams like Spearville and South Central have perennially beaten the Wildcats, but Schuette continues to work to teach them to believe they can compete with anyone she said.

"I want them to be able to be confident in themselves and I think that they are on the right track to have that kind of a season,” Schuette said.

With the season looming, one thing the Wildcats won’t be short of is leadership. The Wildcats have two seniors, but her biggest class is her juniors, of which she has eight this season, and they have begun to lead the way.

"Between them and my seniors, they've stepped up as leaders kind of like as a whole, and that's huge for us,” Schuette said.