Yuma High School’s volleyball team finally will open the 2019 season early next week.

The Indians, ranked No. 4 in Class 2A in the CHSAANow.com preseason poll, serve up the season opener with a Lower Platte Activities Association match, playing at Sedgwick County on Tuesday.

“It will be good,” coach Jenny Noble said. “They’ve played already and won at least one match. They had some good things going last year, so it will be a good one for us.

“It’s always exciting,” she said of the season opener, “and after three weeks of practices, all you can think about is getting to play someone else.”

The coach, who has led the Indians to five straight Class 2A championship matches, and two state titles, said it is turning out to be a good thing in having extra practice time this year. For one thing, a handful of players are missing practice at various times this week while at the Colorado State Fair.

“There are some advantages with some of them being gone because I can try some kids in other positions.”

The extra time also is beneficial in that, while several players return from last year’s 2A championship team, several key players have graduated, and the Indians are going to have a new look in 2019. Since the lineup is newer than in recent seasons, Noble said she would like to settle on a rotation soon in order to gain some cohesiveness.

The middle and outside hitter spots are going to be filled by senior Steph Sauer, junior Ema Richardson and sophomore Elle Roth. Noble said those three will be playing all over the front line.

Pictured above is the 2019 Yuma High School volleyball team: Front row (l-r) — Lainey Mekelburg, Reagan Nolin and Steph Sauer; second row (l-r) — Kaylee Etl, Taylor Law, Jenna Wall, Shelby Blach and Gisele Gutierrez; third row (l-r) — Tanya Bencomo, Alejandra Barron, Joseline Olivas, Alyson Gardner, Dyhlani Perez, Tannah Gates, Fatima Duran, Kinley Eyring, Mia Dischner, Meidi Reyes and Elle Roth; back row (l-r) — Ashley Marshall, Madison Lindt, Kayla Dreiling and Maci Daugherty. Not pictured are Ema Richardson, Jayci Mekelburg, Lea Richardson, Lyndsey Mekelburg, and Jazmin Danner. (Pioneer Photo)

Senior Reagan Nolin will be the setter in the Indians’ 5-1 attack, and senior Lainey Mekelburg will play the right side. Junior Gisele Gutierrez and sophomore Kinley Eyring also are battling for playing time.

Junior Jayci Mekelburg will play libero or serve as a defensive specialist. Others vying for time as defensive specialists are junior Shelby Blach and sophomore Tannah Gates.

“Everyone is working hard, and there has been good competition in practices,” Noble said, noting tight battles for earning spots in the varsity rotation.

“We might have some more variety this year in some ways because we’ll see who is playing the best.”

One focus in the preseason is eliminating a penchant for starting slow in matches. The Indians did it last season, but were talented enough to overcome those stretches. The same tendency showed up again during summer competitions.

“We cannot afford to do that anymore,” Noble said. “We have to eliminate slow starts one way or another.”

There is no one true cure for slow starts, but it has been a point of emphasis in the preseason to mentally get past it. However, it likely will happen at some point of another during the season.

“I’d rather avoid it, but if it does happen, is this lineup ready and able to get past that,” Noble said. “We have enough people on the court from last year that I think we’ll be okay if it comes to that.”

Now it is time to get the season started. Noble said that with having a new lineup, it might be best the Indians are opening with an away match, where the pressure might not be as intense.

That will come soon enough as the Indians will host a tough Pine Bluffs, Wyoming, squad for its home opener next Friday, September 6.