Leadership? Check. Experience? Check. Welcoming back the top four attackers and top setter from last year's team? Check.
There is a reason why Marshalltown volleyball coach Terri Westendorf is excited about this year's crop of Bobcats and the things mentioned above are the big ones.
"We lost some seniors last year, but we return a good crop of starters and letterwinners from last year," Westendorf said. "We will have lots of experience this season."
The Bobcats finished 19-22 last year but will gladly welcome back returning senior starters Eisha Oden, Morgan Bellile, Lauren Mazour and Madi Bellile.
Oden led the team in kills last year with 278 but Morgan Bellile, Mazour and Miranda Smith were right behind her. Oden also had 77 digs and 28 blocks from the outside.
Joining Oden on the outside will be Morgan Bellile, who had 220 kills a year ago with a team-high 244 digs, 19 aces and 21 blocks. Westendorf said Oden is a very powerful hitter and Morgan Bellile was the team's most consistent player a year ago.
2012 MHS Volleyball Schedule
Aug. 28, VALLEY, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 1, PAT APGAR INVITE, 9 a.m.
Sept. 4, at Pella Christian, 7:15 p.m.
Sept. 8, at Iowa City West Inv., 9 a.m.
Sept. 11, at Hoover, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 18, SE POLK, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 22, at Cedar Falls Invite, 9 a.m.
Sept. 25, at Urbandale, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 29, at Urbandale Invite, 9 a.m.
Oct. 2, FORT DODGE, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 6, at Oskaloosa Invite, 8 a.m.
Oct. 9, at Ames, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 13, at Johnston Invite, 8:30 a.m.
Oct. 16, MASON CITY, 7:30 p.m.
Joining those two at the net will be Mazour and Smith. Mazour contributed 208 kills, 81 digs, 58 blocks and a team-high 46 aces. Smith led the team in blocks with 69 and also had 180 kills and 29 digs.
"They are both very good blockers, smart hitters and very sturdy," Westendorf said of her middle hitters.
Madi Bellile had a team-high 424 assists and 108 digs a season ago. She will be the team's starting setter in the 5-1 set this season.
The right-side hitter position is still unsettled, according to Westendorf. She has a number of options and said that plenty of younger kids will try to earn that spot.
The back-row defenders will include a host of seniors, including Emily DeVenney, Quinn Goodman, Rachel Faircloth, Megan Major, Cheyenne Friest and Brittanie McGrane. DeVenney will most likely be the team's starting libero.
The CIML is expected to again be very strong this season. Ankeny reached the state semifinals last season and beat another CIML team - Waukee - to get there.
The Bobcats went to two team camps this year at Iowa State and Simpson and began practice on August 6.
The first varsity match of the season will be Tuesday night at home against West Des Moines Valley beginning at 7:30 p.m. The Bobcats also host the Pat Apgar Invitational on Saturday at the Roundhouse beginning at 9 a.m.