"So we decided we were ready to start varsity," she said.
Burgin has three seniors in Beth Miller, Christina VanGarp and Elizabeth Harlow, as well as junior Brooke Ransdell back from last year.
"I'm really excited we're playing this year. I'm excited to see how we do in tournaments against varsity teams. I'm just hoping we do well. I think we're going to do pretty well because we can work well as a team. I'm hoping we can get past district, but I'm just hoping," said Harlow, the team's setter, who had not played organized volleyball before last year. "I thought I would try it for fun, and it was fun, and I was just excited we were going to have a team."
VanGarp said she's also ready to get going.
"Last year was a lot of fun, and now that we're going to play varsity all the time, I can't wait," she said. "We just come together, and I think it's going to be a good season for us.
"Varsity's going to be more of a challenge, but I think we'll be able to compete with just any other team. We practice really hard, we work really hard. I think we can do just as well as any other team. Maggie got us all into it, and it was just so much fun. Maggie's been a great coach, we've all just learned so much."
Building and improving
McKnight said the biggest challenge is trying to teach the new players the basics while continuing to have last year's players continue to improve their skills.
"It's been interesting because the girls who played last year and know the fundamentals, we're really trying to take that next step up and be a more competitive varsity team and learn a more difficult rotation and more difficult offense," McKnight said. "But at the same time, we've also got those new girls who are coming onto the court for the first time, they've never played organized volleyball before. And we're trying to teach them the fundamentals and put in a more competitive strategy all at the same time. We have what I think a pretty challenging season."
Burgin plays its first match Tuesday at home against East Jessamine. In fact, the Bulldogs' first four matches are at home before they head to the McCreary Central Invitational later this month.
The early home schedule will be good for her team, McKnight said.
"I think they'll have a little more confidence playing at home," she said. "At the same time, being that early in the season, I'd like to be playing away so there's not the pressure of, 'My mom is watching, my best friend's watching, or my boyfriend's watching."
"Our goal as a team is to come out with a winning season. I think we can do that. I'm just really anxious to see what happens."
But McKnight knows it won't be easy for a first-year program to reach such lofty heights.
"We had a lot of fun last year, mostly because I didn't want to scare them away from the sport, and because I wanted them learning fundamentals and learning the sport," she said. "This year, I think they're amazed how hard they're having to work now that they're a varsity team. But I think that's fair. I think they need to learn their spot and earn the right to play on the varsity court."
VanGarp just wishes the team could have started years ago.
"Completely. I wish we would have started this from middle school even. I wish we could have played a while lot longer," she said. "We try to let everyone know how much fun volleyball is so everyone can play. It's just a blast."