KEARNEY — Pete Smart has literally been here before.
Smart, who coached the Bulldogs to four league titles and a district title from 2004 to 2012, is back in charge of the Kearney volleyball program after focusing his time and efforts as a club coach and teaching in the district.
“I’m just excited to get going again and to be courtside during matches,” he said. “You like to have players that enjoy learning and being the best players they can be, and I see that in all of these players.”
The Bulldogs bring back four starters in senior outside hitter Quinn Weakley, senior libero Megan Smothers, junior middle hitter and Arizona State commit Andi Kreiling and junior setter Mayson Behney, but will have to fill the void of replacing six graduated seniors. Smart noted that eight of his 12 varsity players were either members of the junior varsity squad or in eighth grade a year ago.
“We’re young,” Smart said. “It’s going to be a team that has a lot of potential and will grow a lot. Once we start implementing things that we’re working on, I think we’ll see a lot of improvement as the year goes on.”
The Bulldogs, who were 26-7-2 last season, reached the district title game in each of the past three seasons before falling to Liberty each time.
“We have a great mixture of great leadership and young people coming up,” the coach said. “You need that mixture because it provides energy to the team, and it helps you down the road.”
Under Smart, the goal of winning titles is straightforward.
“We want to win our conference and we want to win our districts and see what happens after that,” he said.