With six seniors returning and some young talent in the fold the Redwood Valley girls volleyball team will look to take that next step when it takes to the court Aug. 23 for its season debut.

The Cardinals will host Lakeview in non-conference action to open the season before traveling to St. James to face Fairmont at 1 p.m. Aug. 25 for the Big South Conference cross-over match-up.

The Cardinals finished 12-17 a season ago, winning once in the postseason before falling to JCC.

Eight seniors are gone from that squad, including Paige Serbus, Rose Frank, Josi Kodet, Nicole Stoen, Abi Sandgren, Nichele Mannz and Safron Milne.

According to Head Coach Andy Regnier, the Cardinals will have 18 girls on the varsity roster led by seniors Harlee Ahrens, Caitlyn Johnson, Amy Martius, Ashley Wollin, Bri Panitzke and Jenna Pendleton.

“We know our attitude, effort and chemistry will be the biggest factors to our success,” Regnier said, “and the leadership of our seniors will dictate much of that.”

Juniors Leah Irlbeck, Alexa Steffl, Hailey Mohr, Keelie Van Hee and Callie Matray will see their roles increase.

Sophomore starters Sydney Sommers, Haley Garman and Aubree Hicks are back after strong freshman campaigns and join fellow sophomores AJ Guggisberg, Sydney Mertens and Hannah Schjenken.

Freshman Kate Ahrens will also see varsity action after an impressive eighth-grade season and a strong early camp.

“Many girls have worked hard and are going to compete for playing time,” Regnier said. “That high level of competition in practice every day should spark us.”

The Cardinals have some early season home games, including a battle with Springfield Aug. 30 and Sept. 6 against Luverne.

After competing in the Sleepy Eye Tournament for many years, the Cards will now travel to Bloomington Jefferson late in the season to compete against bigger city schools prior to the postseason.

“We’re excited for the season,” Regnier said. “We’d love to see a full crowd there supporting the girls to kick off the year.”