GREENWOOD — Just a few days ago, an extensive remodeling of the coaches' office at the Greenwood volleyball facility was finished.
There's new furniture, pictures have been rearranged on the walls and there is now a giant rug on the floor which displays the Lady Bulldogs' color scheme.
But the office isn't the only thing which is new when it comes to Greenwood volleyball.
The Lady Bulldogs, who won the 6A state title last season, will now play in a reconfigured 5A class in a new conference, the 5A-West, which features some familiar foes, past and present. Their new conference also won't be a combined conference as was the case in Greenwood's past two seasons in 6A, meaning every conference game this season matters.
Along with traditional foes like Alma, Siloam Springs and Russellville, Greenwood's new 5A-West members include former conference rivals Vilonia and Greenbrier, now led by former Paris coach Wes Davis. Beebe and Little Rock Christian round out the 5A-West.
"It's going to be a little bit different; we've gained some teams we've never played before," Greenwood coach Jennifer Golden said. "But then we're gaining some teams back that we haven't played in years like Vilonia and Greenbrier.
"I'm excited to be back in a conference where playing a conference game matters. In the past, it was really we were kind of seeding ourselves for the conference tournament and now we've done away with that, so I like this a whole lot better, I like this set-up, so it's going to be a good thing for us I think."
Another noticeable difference with this upcoming season for Greenwood will be the team adjusting to the loss of nine seniors off that title team, including their entire back row.
But with the success Greenwood has had over the years, especially under Golden, don't necessarily consider this season as a rebuilding one.
"We lost just a really good group of kids; they had the leadership and they had the talent," Golden said. "But I really think they set a good foundation for these other players that are preparing to do the same thing and having the same goal. It's not a rebuild per se, but it's a reconfiguration maybe."
As the Lady Bulldogs began preseason workouts recently, Golden said she is still in the process of finalizing a set lineup as the season opener approaches less than two weeks from now.
"We still have some tweaks to make and some kinks to get out," she said. "I have a couple of lineups that we're still looking at, but slowly we're working towards that one lineup I think will be the right one for this season.
"I feel like, on the front row, we're going to be bigger and a little bit better than we were. But we also lost both setters and both defensive players. We've got kids who are going to do a really good job, but they've got big shoes to fill."
The Lady Bulldogs do return their two top leaders in kills from last season with outside hitters Abby Cagle, a senior, and junior Zoie Benton. Camryn Presley, a junior middle hitter who ranked fifth on the team in kills in 2017, is going to see more action at setter.
Another returning player with experience, junior Izzy Davis, will shift to libero, with fellow junior Josie Chapple playing the other defensive position. Golden is also high on a pair of sophomores, middle hitter Larkin Luke and setter Anna Johnson.
Golden added she liked how the Lady Bulldogs performed at summer camps, especially one at Missouri State in which they finished third playing some strong Missouri teams. But Golden is still emphasizing to her players that last season is history and it's time for more history to be made.
Presley agrees with that assessment.
"(Golden) has really (emphasized) the fact that this is a new team, like we're not state champions anymore, we're starting over," Presley said. "It's like we have to want it again, it's not just going to get handed to us, we have to have the same fire that we did last season. ... We have to start now and put in the work because it's not going to come easy."
Presley is also banking on Greenwood's tradition to keep the team in the hunt to repeat as state champs.
"That's kind of how I see it," Presley said. "Everyone's saying, 'Oh, you lost so many people, how is it going to be?'
"And I'm like, I'm not worried at all; with all the incoming sophomores and all of us coming back, I think we'll be good, I'm not worried."
The Lady Bulldogs will play a benefit match at Rogers on Aug. 16 before starting the season on Aug. 20 at Fayetteville. Then the following day, Aug. 21, Greenwood has its home opener against Rogers Heritage.