One practice motivated McAlester volleyball's new coach and players for the upcoming season.

New volleyball coach Laurie Smith said her team will surpass last year's win total of seven and her players started to buy in to the program after the first practice of the season Monday.

"I'm excited about the new techniques that she's bringing to us," sophomore Samantha Moore said. "She's bringing a whole different program to us and I think it's going to be good for us." 

Moore said Smith focuses on improving individual's techniques in passing and serving — something the new coach said will help the team improve.

Smith said the Lady Buffs have a good foundation for serving with their steps, though they could use improvement on spot serving.

The serving and passing drills McAlester worked entailed a serving and receiving percentage. Players would be rated from zero to three on the quality of their passes, with three being the highest. Smith said the points earned would be divided by the number of serves to get the percentage. 

Smith said McAlester showed less hustle than what she wanted to see and vowed the Lady Buffs would go harder moving forward. 

"We've got a lot to work on, but it's only July and we don't start until August," Smith said. "It gives us plenty of time to work on all of those things."

Smith said the team hopes to focus on short-term goals, including winning more games than last year, to build toward success in the postseason.

"If we could make some noise at the regional tournament, win a game, that would be good," Smith said.

Moore said the players were getting along well and communicating. She said the players were happy to be there and were motivate

Senior Zoie Newman said players did not know what to expect on the first day of practice.

"Everyone is kind of in the same shoes and it helps everyone get along and we'll run a little bit smoother," Newman said.

Newman said Smith asked players to try something different if something wasn't working for them instead of just telling them to do it. The senior said Smith was able to work with the players more on an individual basis. 

Players are hoping to increase the student section this year for more momentum in their side. A boost in school spirit can lead to a rise in the team's energy, they said.

"These last few years, it's been really dead," junior Janai Riddle said. "Not a lot of people have been coming, so it's been just really quiet." 

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