It's still early in the season, but the Selma girls volleyball team has already shown improvement.
The Bears, who started last season 0-2, started the new year the opposite way, 2-0. The season started with a 3-1 win at Caruthers on Aug. 18. The Bears then followed up with a 3-1 win at home against Roosevelt on Aug. 23.
"We're playing a lot better than we did last year. Our chemistry is finally coming together. There's a flow to the game," head coach Darin Williams said. "We're not quite there yet, but we showed more [against Roosevelt] than we did against Caruthers."
On the road against Caruthers, the Bears won the first set 25-20 and the second set 25-21, lost the third set 25-23, and then closed out the match with a 25-15 win in the fourth set.
"Our hitting was fine, our serve was OK, our hustle was outstanding," Williams said. "The girls are diving for balls. They understand hard work, getting after it. That's the big thing. You have to play aggressive. If we play passive, that's when we start losing five, six, seven points in a row."
Against Roosevelt, the two teams went back-and-forth throughout the match. The Bears jumped out to a 14-9 lead in the first set, but the Rough Riders climbed back to win the first set 25-22. The Bears never gave up the lead in the second set, winning it 25-16.
In the third set, the Rough Riders briefly took a 17-16 lead, but the Bears prevailed 26-24. With another burst of energy in the fourth set, the Bears won 25-20 and secured their second win in the young season.
"Volleyball is a momentum game. It's weird," Williams said. "Sometimes you'll give up three points, but then you will get those three points back. Sometimes you'll give up five or seven, hopefully you get the seven back. That's how volleyball is."
The Rough Riders, who lost 3-0 against Selma last season, also showed how much they have improved in the new season.
"Roosevelt wouldn't go away. Their coaches and players are very good," Williams said. "We've played them many times over the years, and they're getting better just like we're getting better. It was a great game. We were going back and forth. That's good volleyball."
With five seniors and three juniors leading the way, the Bears have come into the new year with more experience.
"The rhythm of the girls playing together, the certain feel they have for each other, is coming together," Williams said. "That always comes with experience."
Destiny Estrada was one of the seniors leading the charge as the Bears tried to put away the pesky Rough Riders.
"We couldn't let it get to us. We just had to keep our heads up and keep playing harder and harder," Estrada said. "We responded to what they were doing and put up our defense."
The Bears missed the playoffs last year after owning a record of 8-18, 0-10.
"This season feels a lot different than last year," Estrada said. "As long as we keep going, it will be a good season. We're progressing everyday at practice, putting in work. It's all coming together."
The senior is also impressed by the younger volleyball players at Selma.
"The freshmen team we have right now, they're doing really good. They're really athletic," Estrada said. "The program is growing and growing."
The Bears hope to keep the momentum going when they face Kerman on the road on Sept. 1. Last season, Kerman owned an overall record of 17-13-2 and a league record of 2-8. One of its wins was a 3-1 win against Selma.