Audrey Rhode looked upon a group of fresh faces when she worked with her Whale Branch Early College High School volleyball team during the summer.
The Warriors had graduated 10 seniors from a team that reached the third round of the Class 1-A playoffs.
"So it's like starting all over again," Rhode said.
But with outside hitters Rietta Salters and Olivia Walker returning, and first-year player Shaniqua Johnson catching on quickly, Rhode feels the Warriors have a solid core. And her team started well, winning its season opener at rival Battery Creek, 3-1, by scores of 21-25, 25-10, 25-10, 25-16.
Walker had four kills and eight assists for the Warriors. Johnson added five kills.
Whale Branch worked with a Battery Creek assistant during the summer, but did not know much about the makeup of the current Dolphins team. They found out upon taking the court at the Palace, struck by Battery Creek's height.
"We saw giants on their team,' Rhode said. "I just told the girls to cover and spike it hard and find the holes."
Dolphins coach Barry Anderson said he couldn't figure out a way to make the height work for the Dolphins during their first match. He wants to double block with a towering front line that includes Cecillia Williams and La'schirrae Morrall. He said he needs to work on finding the proper rotation.
"It's just getting it worked out -- back row, front row, who is going in for who," said Anderson, who took over on an interim basis for Stephanie Weltz, who left to teach at Beaufort High School. "And I think I tried to confuse them a little too much with too much height on the front row.
"So we're going to fix that."
Morrall had five kills and eight blocks to help lead the Dolphins. Williams added four kills and five blocks.
The Dolphins showed signs of what could be. They withstood a Whale Branch run during the middle of Game 1, scoring six consecutive points to reclaim the lead and eventually take the game.
The Warriors jumped out to a 13-3 lead in the second game and didn't allow Battery Creek a chance to get back in the match.
"I've never seen them have that much fun on the court together," Rhode said.
The teams meet again Thursday at Whale Branch.
Anderson, who has five seniors and four juniors on the roster, said he will work to correct that rotation and that the Dolphins should compete well in Region 6-AA.
"There is a lot of talent right here," he said. "There's an awful lot of talent.
"It's just trying to get it together."