It's almost like working with a blank slate for Marta Helfrick.

The Chambersburg boys volleyball team returns only one starter from last year's 8-5 team and only three others who saw any varsity playing time.

So Helfrick will be using plenty of new faces who need to quickly get acclimated to varsity play when the Trojans open the season Saturday at the Hempfield Tournament.

"We're very young, and inexperienced at the varsity level, but they all do play year round," Helfrick said. "I'm very happy with our first two weeks. We've gotten to play against some quicker tempo teams, so we've seen where we need to be.

"I was a little unsure when we started, but I think everybody has done well. The kids have been open-minded about learning and you can see they want to be competitive. They'll be underdogs, but they want to be able to rattle some cages."

The lone starter back is 6-foot-2 opposite hitter Dalton Strite. He was a Mid Penn Commonwealth second-team all-star last spring.

Dylan Culler, Trey Stepler and Aaron Myers, all outside hitters, also got some time with the varsity.

Moving up from the junior varsity team are Kellen Stepler (setter), Nate Walker (middle hitter), Will Simmons (middle hitter) and Wes Newman (libero).

Helfrick said, "I think the chemistry is definitely there. They're having fun on the court and they're helping each other grow, which is helping the progress of the team."

The fifth-year coach has seen enough to know what the team needs to work on the most.

"We need to focus on defense," she said. "Blocking and serve-receive passing have been a couple of weaknesses so far."

The Trojans will play in three tournaments (Hempfield, Northeastern and Central York), which will help Helfrick evaluate the team's improvement.

"When you play all day at a tournament you get to see a lot of variety," she said, "and kids get put into scenarios that give them good experience."

Which is the one thing Chambersburg needs more than anything else.

NOTES: The Trojans will field only three seniors, four juniors and seven sophomores ... Helfrick believes Central Dauphin is the MPC Commonwealth favorite, with Cumberland Valley also in contention ... Seven seniors graduated from last year's team.

Trojans at a glance

Coach: Marta Helfrick, fifth year, 35-23 (.517)

Last year: 8-5 (7-3 Mid Penn Commonwealth Division)

Returning starters: Dalton Strite (sr., 6-foot-2, opposite hitter).

Other top players: Kellen Stepler (jr., 6-2, setter); Trey Stepler (so., 6-0, outside hitter); Dylan Culler (jr., 6-0, outside hitter); Nate Walker (sr., 5-11, middle hitter); Will Simmers (so., 6-4, middle hitter); Wes Newman (so., 5-6, libero); Aaron Myers (sr., 6-0, outside hitter). 

Season opener: Saturday, at Hempfield Tournament, 8 a.m.

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