Lady Purple Hurricanes coach Scott Busby still finds himself shocked at the season's end result more than 10 months later.
"(We) had a little bit of letdown in the area playoffs," said Busby, whose team won once but lost twice, including in a fourth-place match that would have qualified Cartersville for the state tournament.
"It was one of those days where it was like a bad movie that you couldn't stop," he added.
Before their performance in the area tournament, the Lady Canes (20-12, 3-0) had enjoyed a rather remarkable season, winning the North Paudling Invitational and the Bartow County Championships.
"Last season was one of the better teams we've had in Cartersville," said Busby, who is entering his ninth season as a head coach.
To even approach that type of season, Cartersville must replace six seniors from last year's team, including three selections to The Daily Tribune News' All-County Volleyball Team -- Bartow County Player of the Year Alexandria Clyburn, Caitlin Conduff and Amanda Lowenstein.
"Half of our varsity is (made up of) JV players (from last season) that we've never played with before," said senior setter Samantha Conley, one of four returning players.
Megan Patton, Lyndsey Jones and Emily Williams also join the rank of returnees.
Communication, then, will be significant with the addition of last year's junior varsity members.
"I think we have a lot of talent this year," said Patton, a senior libero and an all-county selection last season. "We're definitely going to build as a team."
"We got a relatively young team," Busby acknowledged. "The young players stepping up are very athletic."
The Lady Canes' coach said the young players on the team will be expected to make contributions as they progress throughout the year.
Just because it said goodbye to six seniors, Cartersville enters the season with the same expectations it always has.
"Our goals this year are pretty close to what they are every year, irregardless of who we lost," Busby said.
Those goals, he added, are: "Come in, grow as a team; make sure we peak at the right time; win the county championship; and see how far we can push in the state tournament."
One of those goals should be a lot easier to cross of the list than the others. Cartersville's seniors have yet to experience a loss in the county tournament.
"We always win our county tournament," said Patton, who has yet to lose the county tournament in her previous three years on the Cartersville volleyball team. "We're looking to come out with a victory in that one."
But Patton and her senior teammates seem to have bigger goals for their final prep seasons.
"I want to make it to state," Conley said.
"That's my ultimate goal," added Patton. She said all the Lady Canes must bring positivity to the team.
If Cartersville hopes to make it to the state tournament this season, it must play its best even when things get rough, which may not have always been the case last year.
"We have a lot more chill (team) members" this year, Conley said.
"The main lesson (from last season) ... is you're only as good as you are on that given day," Busby said. "You've got to perform at your highest level when playoffs come."
The Lady Canes also will play in Area 6-AAA this season, with Allatoona the only new addition to the now five-team area. Central-Carroll, Haralson County and Cedartown remain in the area.
Cartersville opens its seasoon today with a tri-match at Kennesaw Mountain. The Lady Canes play Walker at 6:30 p.m. followed by a match with the host Lady Mustangs.