BELLEVILLE — The Belleville East Lancers might be young, but they bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the volleyball court.
The Lancers, who went 18-22 last season, have only two seniors and three juniors on their roster this season.
"We are very light on the top end with our upperclassmen, but we have a really energetic sophomore group that really fits into the program goals that we have,'' said Lancers coach Stacey Posey said. "It's going to be different than what we've seen the last couple of years because we had so many seniors.
"We had nine seniors (2011) and then five seniors (in 2012). We have some inexperience, but the aura in our practices has been awesome. Just tons of energy from those younger girls.''
The Lancers will open the season against Mater Dei on Tuesday in a match where former Knights coach Fred Rakers, who has been diagnosed with cancer, will be honored.
The Lancers' two seniors are outside hitter Montira Mosby, a first team All-Southwestern Conference selection last year, and middle hitter Jozlynn Brooks.
"This will be Montira's fourth year in a varsity role, three years in a starting varsity role,'' Posey said. "She's very comfortable, and that's who everybody looks to when we play anybody. Jozlynn was a varsity starter all last year.''
The Lancers will run a 5-1 with sophomore Katie Sauerwein handling the setting chores. Sauerwein saw some action late last season.
Sophomore Aaliayh Gladney will be the other outside hitter and sophomore Shelby Ridgeway will be the other middle hitter.
Junior Haley Madeville, who was the Lancers' libero for the last month of the season, returns.
Junior Lexi Dent and sophomore Katie Sanchez are the defensive specialists.
Sophomores Tamar Mosby and Erin Pruitt are candidates for the job of right-side hitter.
"The majority of those girls saw little or no varsity time last year,'' Posey said. "Some of those girls didn't even dress varsity last year.''
Tamar Mosby and freshman Janea Mosby are Montira Mosby's younger sisters.
An older sister, Chantira Mosby, also played for the Lancers.
"I feel fortunate that I have gotten to coach all four of their girls,'' Posey said.
With so little experience, Posey knows that it could take time for her squad to jell as a unit.
"It's nice to be the underdog,'' Posey said. "When you look at our roster and see five upperclassmen, immediately people kind of think of you as the underdog. I'm fine with that. We really enjoy the energy of our kids. They're going to surprise some people that teams that haven't played together make, but that's OK because this group isn't going to get outworked. They may not play perfect, but they are going to work hard on the court.''
Posey said her squad also is willing to try new things.
"We're going to run a different defense than any I've ever run, and within a day, they were already picking it up,'' Posey said. "They are a group that likes to be challenged on the court.''
Posey has two other former head coaches on her staff in Melanie Korte, who coached for seven years at Belleville West, and Kim Funk, who coached the Lancers for the three seasons.
Korte is filling in for Stefanie Gaubatz, who is on maternity leave.
"We really limited the number of girls we kept this year,'' Posey said. "We kept only 27 in our whole program because we wanted time to really train the girls that we had. A lot of touches, a lot of one-on-one instruction. That's been a good change, too.''
Contact reporter Steve Korte at email@example.com or 239-2522.