"I think the season has gone really well," Houston said. "You can definitely tell when we are working together and not working together. We are just hoping that we can get everything together by the time states come."
South Charleston (9-7-2), which won its early matchup with Mingo Central 25-18, 25-16, hopes that an "attitude" adjustment under first-year coach Andrea Lewis will pay dividends. Seniors Kaylee Stanley and Abby Bare have already seen a huge change from a disappointing season last year.
"There is a major difference in attitudes from last year," Stanley said. "There was a lot of negativity. We had a lot of younger girls come out his year but our older girls stepped up and showed them the ropes. It's our senior year. We don't want to lose again."
SC's last visit to the state tournament was in 2010.
"This year, I think we have a really good group of girls," Bare said. "Attitude really killed us and we have also had a new coach every year except my freshman and sophomore year. But our coach is great. She really communicates with us and made us more of a team."
But Lewis wouldn't take the credit for the team's early success.
"I have been very fortunate with such a great group of girls," Lewis said. "They welcomed me with open arms, which made it a lot easier to welcome them back. I wanted to make a positive memory for the seniors. Coming in, there was a lot of team building. I am a firm believer that if you don't have chemistry as a team, then you won't make it very far."
Charleston Catholic (18-5) won its early match against Greenbrier West 25-14, 25-20 before falling to Class AA Clay County 25-19, 27-25. But the Irish believe the sky is the limit and a return to the state tournament is definitely on their checklist. They won back-to-back Class A championships in 2009-10.
"For the past two years, we have had a lot of younger players," said senior Sierra Portillo. "But they have really stepped up their game. It's nice to see them play up to their potential and I think we will do pretty well this year."
"We obviously want to go to states," added senior Gina Marks. "That's what everyone wants. But right now we need to build up our wins and confidence."