BULLARD -- Ben Belshaw already had an idea of what he was getting into upon accepting the job as the Bullard Lady Panthers’ new volleyball coach.

The coaching veteran, who has spent the previous four years as the head coach at Nacogdoches, was aware of what Bullard volleyball has come to stand for in the area.

Convincing his wife to come join him wasn’t exactly a hard sell either.

“My wife and I both just got hired here so that was big draw, having us both work in the same school,” Benshaw said Tuesday during his team’s afternoon practice. “Being at Nacogdoches, we’ve had Bullard come to our tournament. We always had competitive games; sometimes they’d win and sometimes we’d win.”

Bullard’s done a lot of winning lately in volleyball, and Belshaw believes the foundation remains for continued success.

“Any time you’ve got a new coach coming in, you have different philosophies and different ideals and things,” Belshaw said. ‘But the overall skill level I think is pretty good based on what I’ve seen so far and building on what Bullard has already been."

The Lady Panthers aren’t the only proven winners in the new District 16-3A, which also includes two-time defending regional semifinalist Spring Hill and Chapel Hill, which bested Bullard for the district title last season.

“I don’t think it will be the killer district that football’s going to be, but volleyball-wise it will be pretty competitive,” Belshaw said. “I feel like with what we’ve got we have a chance to finish in the top three and make the playoffs. Bullard already has a good tradition of being in the playoffs, so I feel like the girls are kind of hungry to keep that going.”

Belshaw said he’s been impressed with a couple of returning starters in senior setter Bri Ridgely and senior middle blocker Meredith Daly.

“As far as the returners go, those will be sort of the main two as seniors,” he said.

The new Bullard coach’s main emphasis thus far has been getting acquainted with his new players.

“I really just want to get a foundation of what I want to do with the program and with these girls and let them know kind of where I’m coming from and what I expect and what I’m hoping to see them do later on,” he said. “The good thing about spending all this time together is to get a good foundation of what our goals are going to be."

Bullard begins the season Aug. 13 at Pine Tree.