SEBRING - With only two seniors on this year's squad, the Sebring High volleyball team is counting on a number of underclassmen to step up and contribute.
The younger players came through in a big way to help Sebring cruise past Frostproof by scores of 25-18, 25-15, 25-12 in the Preseason Classic on Tuesday night.
"We have lots of youth on the squad this season," said Blue Streak volleyball coach Venessa Sinness. "You always have some jitters in the first match of the season, but we got over them pretty quickly and played fairly well as a team.
"We did a good job of setting the ball and I was very impressed with freshman Cadie O'Hern and my two seniors Jordan Hinkle and Lindsey Whittington."
Sebring jumped out to a 7-3 lead in the first set behind strong serving from Whittington, who had five aces, and solid net play from O'Hern, who had six kills, and Hinkle.
The Blue Streaks kept the offensive pressure on as their front line continued to find holes in the Bulldogs' defense to extend their lead to 12-5.
Frostproof refused to quit and ripped off a string of points to pull within 12-9.
Sebring went back to work and dominated the rest of the set to ease to a 25-18 victory.
"We were aggressive with our serving and Lindsey and Kylie Bowers did a good job of mixing up their sets," Sinness said.
The Blue Streaks, with their jitters out of the way, stormed out to a 14-8 lead in the second set.
Hannah Tucker, who finished with five kills, was active at the net and Caylin Webb scored a number of points, including set point, with her laser serve for a 25-15 win.
The third set was more of the same as Sebring was able to get all of its players quality court time in the preseason match.
The Blue Streaks took an early lead and never looked back in rolling to the 25-12 victory to open the season in convincing fashion.
"I started the match tonight with a freshman and two sophomores and it's been a while since I've had this much youth on the team," Sinness said. "We have plenty of room for improvement in our serve-receive and we need to communicate better.
"The rest of it will come around and I'm sure we will improve with each match we play as our girls gain more experience."
Sebring moved down from Class 6A-District 9 to Class 5A-District 11 this season, but the Blue Streaks will have their hands full competing against DeSoto, Hardee and Lemon Bay for a spot in the state playoffs.
"This is a tough district because Lemon Bay will be ranked in the top five in the state," Sinness said. "DeSoto has a solid volleyball program and I think this district is tougher than the one we left."
Sebring plays county rival Lake Placid in the championship game at 7:30 tonight, while Frostproof takes on Avon Park at 6 p.m.
"We always enjoy playing Lake Placid," Sinness said. "It's early in the season and it's good for both programs to play each other.
"We're excited to get on the floor and we're looking forward to a great season."