Jenny Wright showed enough potential a year ago that Licking Valley High School girls volleyball coach Abby Ettenhofer brought her up from the freshman team early in the season.

Jenny Wright showed enough potential a year ago that Licking Valley High School girls volleyball coach Abby Ettenhofer brought her up from the freshman team early in the season.

The sophomore middle hitter will be asked to play an even bigger role this year for the Panthers, who open Tuesday at home against defending Division II district-champion Hartley and play their first MSL-Ohio Division match on Thursday against visiting Granville.

"She has pretty good size and she's athletic. She's our strongest hitter," Ettenhofer said. "We're still working on her blocking, but she can definitely be a force for us in the middle."

The Panthers finished 10-12 overall a year ago and went 5-9 in the league. They were seeded eighth for last year's district tournament and lost to Hamilton Township in a first-round match.

They return a trio of juniors who will aid the cause of improvement in Ettenhofer's third season. Outside hitter Hanna Dodson is a third-year starter, middle hitter Mariah Hess brings energy to the lineup and Cassandra Klein is the new setter.

The Panthers lack any seniors.

"We're awfully young, but the girls at every level in this program are starting to believe in what we're doing," Ettenhofer said.

Others to look for include juniors Tesse Griffith (outside hitter), Kaci Locke (defensive specialist) and Makenzie Baker (middle hitter).

Freshman Brooke Bennett is expected to start at one of the outside hitter positions, and classmate Marissa Klein (libero) also is expected to see time. Sophomore setters Callie Staggers and Shyla Kreager are dressing as well.

"Chemistry is really important and I'm getting a different feel that these girls are playing as one," Ettenhofer said. "We've been doing some team bonding things, and I really feel like we're on the right track."