Junior Josie Pitts sets the ball in a match against St. Joseph-Benton Sept. 3. 

As the Spoofhound volleyball team hits its stride into Midland Empire Conference play, its focus is cardio and the pressure of the experienced.

Maryville is setting its sights on yet another chance to hoist the MEC Championship trophy, but must rely on its veteran leaders to pursue the opportunity.

The Spoofhounds fell in their first chance to prove that youth is not going to stop them from accomplishing their championship hopes. Benton took the first MEC matchup against the Spoofhounds in sweeping fashion, but quickly gathered up its talent and put it towards Southwest Valley High School as it traveled to Corning, Iowa.

“I think everyone knows their role on the court,” Maryville coach Marissa Felt said. “There were times that the girls were tired from playing three matches last week, but they kept working hard.”

The team is set up for the main portion of their schedule as they hope to continue MEC dominance. Thus far in the season, the Spoofhounds are 1-1 in conference play, but it's only the beginning. Maryville will look to hit their stride as two of its next three opponents are MEC rivals Lafeyette and Cameron.

Last year, the Spoofhounds were able to more than handle themselves in conference play as they earned the No. 1 seed in district play and a district championship appearance, the Spoofhounds did not disappoint expectations.

Now with a revitalized team, it's a challenge, but nothing that the pair of second year coaches Marissa Felt and veteran leader senior Vanessa Klotz can’t manage.

“I think that we are definitely excited (for MEC play), you know we talked about as a goal to be conference champs, that's really important to us,” Klotz said. “We’ve been working hard in practice and coming together, we’ve had a couple other games and adding that in makes for great practice.”

Maryville searches for their new identity as a team with determination to get better every single day. The only way to continue to grow as a team into the next phase is to come into practice with intensity and the passion to grow.

Each day, the coaches and the players emphasize cardio and how much it matters in the longer matches they have.

“We got tired in some of the longer matches, especially against Corning, so lots of conditioning for sure,” Felt said. “Lots of conditioning is what we are doing, and we are ready for the rest of the season.”

The coaching game can be rough, and the tables can flip easily if you underestimate any team on a given day. Felt knows that and continues to represent her coaching style from last season as she preaches the fact that the team just needs to focus on taking one game at a time.

“Last week we kind of got ahead of ourselves and looked past Corning, it was just going to be a game for us, but they were actually a really good team,” Felt said. “Going into it, I don’t think we were prepared for that, so I’m just going to take it one game at a time for the rest of the year.”

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