EARLY — With three years of volleyball experience to their credit, the Early Lady Horns are eager to take the next step in the program’s development under new head coach Natalie Whitewood.

Preseason practices began Tuesday, and collecting hardware for the trophy case is the Lady Horns’ primary goal.

“I don’t think we have a gold ball, so my goal is to get them their first gold ball,” Whitewood said. “Our expectation is to win district.”

In 2016, the Lady Horns posted a 9-22 overall record and 1-9 mark in District 6-3A action — the first league victory in program history.

Whitewood — who reported a total of 38 players on the freshman, junior varsity and varsity levels — has been pleased thus far with the Lady Horns’ work ethic, and with the amount of overall talent the team possesses.

“I didn’t get to see them last year, but they’re really looking confident,” Whitewood said. “They’re confident in what they’re doing, but what sets them apart is their hustle. I’m super excited with what we’re doing. We have so many good hitters and so many good servers and a lot of upperclassmen, so it’s hard to choose. We have some girls that can hit the ball, they can really put it down, and we have some really good servers. ”

The Lady Horns are slated to open the regular season at 2 p.m. Tuesday when Veribest visits. Early will compete in the Albany, Glen Rose and Copperas Cove tournaments, along with battling Clyde, Hamilton, Grape Creek, Bronte, Paint Rock, Tolar and Lampasas before 6-3A action commences Sept. 23 at Breckenridge.

“I want to see their transition and how they move,” Whitewood said in regard to the early season goals. “Some of them are playing different positions from what they’ve ever played before, so I want to see their transition from what they did last year to this year. I also want them to be a little quicker.”

BROWN COUNTY VOLLEYBALL VISITS

Wednesday: Brownwood

Wednesday: Bangs

Friday: Early

Friday: Zephyr