Two years ago, the playoffs seemed to be a dream for the North Augusta Lady Yellow Jackets volleyball team.
"We made the playoffs last year and it was the first time in a decade - probably more than that," said Chris Emerling, the coach.
This year, the team got off to a good start. As of Wednesday, the Lady Yellow Jackets were undefeated in their first seven games.
"The hardest part is still to come," Mr. Emerling said. "We've had good games against Lakeside and Augusta Prep. We haven't been 7-0 in awhile."
Experience and talent are the main things the team has going for it.
"I used to believe that ability trumped experience," Mr. Emerling said. With six seniors on the team, he admits his belief has changed.
"They've played very significant roles. Their talent has made a huge difference," he said.
The players notice something else.
"We are a lot more together as a team. We're not here for ourselves. We work in unity," said Emily Durand, a senior. "We were lazy last year."
The team wants to win, said Jacqueline Moyer, another senior.
"Our attitudes weren't in it last year," she said.
Although the team made it to the playoffs last year, it didn't advance.
"It was like our mission was accomplished - we made it to the playoffs," Mr. Emerling said. "This year, I don't get that feeling.''
The team's goal this year involves a state title.
"That's one of the huge goals. Just making it is not enough," he said.
There are some tough teams in North Augusta's division. Lexington is always hard to beat. The school has won many state championships in a variety of sports and has left more than one North Augusta team intimidated.
"It's a mental block," Mr. Emerling said.
The Lady Yellow Jackets have several more games before they realize their playoff dreams. The regular season ends Oct. 17, with the playoffs beginning soon thereafter.
Despite losing six seniors after this year, Mr. Emerling said he thinks the Lady Yellow Jackets will have a solid team next year.
"There's not a huge dropoff," he said.
Reach Charmain Z. Brackett at firstname.lastname@example.org.