Tiara Green and Chrislyn Wells have been here before.

Everyone else, not so much.

The only holdovers from Stephenville's 2012 3A Region I finalist club are now the primary leaders on a team that begins defense of its District 7-3A championship today.

The Honeybees visit Hillsboro at 4:30 p.m. in the 7-3A opener for both clubs, and Green and Wells are pleased league play has finally arrived.

"It's exciting, I can't wait to get it going," Wells said.

Green said they learned last year what it takes to win a district title.

"We have to be focused and disciplined," said Green, who along with Wells handles setting duties for the Honeybees.

Both seniors feel the lessons learned against a rugged early schedule that pitted the Honeybees against mostly 4A and 5A powers and even some out-of-state competition at Disney World will pay off in league play.

"We were in some good tournaments, and it was tough," Green said. "The teams we'll see in district don't compare."

She doesn't mean that disrespectfully, but Hillsboro and the rest of 7-3A - Glen Rose, Alvarado and Venus - simply aren't the same as Lake Travis, New Braunfels and Aledo.

"We saw what we needed to work on, so we've been doing that in practice and getting better," Green said. "Now, we're ready."

The Bees have certainly looked ready for district of late, winning four straight matches including a pair of sweeps, a four-set victory over tough 2A Peaster and a five-game marathon with Waco Robinson.

"We felt what it feels like to win again, and we haven't really felt that in a while," said Wells of the win streak coming on the heels of a 4-19 start to the season. "Now we're happy, more relaxed."

Green chirped in, "We have our confidence back."

Part of the process of restoring such confidence was getting a mostly new squad to come together. That didn't just mean helping a large group of sophomores and a couple juniors get acclimated to the speed and level of varsity play, it meant coming together as a team. For Wells and Green, it meant adjusting to the younger crowd.

"They had to adjust, but we did, too," Wells said. "Because they've all been playing together, so it's kind of like we're the new ones to them."

Green said the early tournament and travel schedule, including a trip to Orlando, Fla., helped the cause.

"We just kept bonding," Green said. "All those tournaments and trips everywhere had us going all the time, and we were going together."

Wells says the team is now like one big family.

"We're together a lot, and when we're not I'll see them at events that are non-volleyball and it's like, 'Oh there's my sister, there's my teammate.' It's so much more than just, 'Yeah, we're friends.'"

Green says she has noticed the maturation of the younger players through the season.

"They know when to get serious at game time, but they know how to have fun, too," Green said.

They hope that by taking their business seriously, district can be all fun, and can lead to another league championship before the postseason arrives.

"I'm excited to see how far we can go," Wells said. "Early in the year, I had doubts, but now I think we can go as far, maybe even farther than last year."

Green welcomes doubters after the tough start to the year, and looks forward to finishing on top.

"We lost eight seniors and people doubted us, but it just took a while for us to click," Green said. "Now we can prove them wrong."