Building on the strength of six straight winning campaigns, head coach Hank Moore is hopeful  this year’s women’s volleyball team will reload instead of rebuild.

Southwestern Assemblies of God University has become one of the Red River Athletic Conference’s powers in recent seasons. In fact, with Moore entering his 11th season by averaging over 20 wins per season, the Lady Lions are annual contenders.

While the University of Texas at Brownsville and Wiley College have twice taken the crown in the past four years, Southwestern, Texas Wesleyan and Our Lady of the Lake University have brought the heat. Adding Houston’s University of St. Thomas this fall should only make for highly competitive volleyball among the league’s elite.

If Moore seems to be having more fun as he seeks to assemble the team’s most effective rotation, it is likely because this year’s group could be his deepest ever. It’s enough to breed hope for another successful team.

“We will be bringing in 17 players,” the veteran coach confirmed. “We look to add one more in a few weeks. This is the largest group I have ever worked with.

“Adding some very good players helps us,” Moore continued.  “Four that were not on last year’s squad will compete for starting positions.”

A core of returning performers includes Krystal Cisneros who came into her own last fall in both kills and blocks. Caitlyn Hudson is due for an autumn breakout as an attacker and is one of the team’s best servers. Tina Brown is a solid leader and is known for her fearless play at the net.

Sophomore setter Taylor Calverley averaged over nine assists per match, distributing the ball all across the frontline.

Amanda Laney returns to SAGU after hitting .265 as a freshman two seasons ago. Kassy Cox, at 6-foot-1, had many eye-opening moments in 2010. The high energy sophomore is a force at the net on offense and defense.

Laura Espinosa was a very pleasant surprise last fall. She expanded her game by adding a jump-serve that led the Lady Lions in aces for most of the year.

Moore has a handful of veterans who give leadership to the squad. The team will officially name team captains following a vote on Monday, Aug. 22.

Stat leaders from 2010:

Kills: Cisneros 301, Hudson 257, Cox 240

Hitting Pct.:  Cisneros .238, Calverley .212, Hudson .146

Assists: Calverley 1,126, Brown 66

Service aces: Brown 44, Espinoza 40, Hudson 38, Calverley 36

Blocks: Cisneros 106, Cox 60, Hudson 46

Digs: Espinoza 377, Hudson 352, Brown 311, Calverley 277, Beka Dollar 75