SHERIDAN — Sheridan High School volleyball has primarily played in tournaments and just had its first conference game against Natrona County High School last Friday, losing 3-1.
The Lady Broncs are 4-10 on the season, head coach Eric Frey said, with most of the games being competitive, something Frey finds encouraging. The team is not getting blown out; against Natrona all five losses were within five points after the Lady Broncs won the first set. While it is not the best start, eliminating errors and continued improvement will help some of those losses turn into wins.
“It has not started out how we hoped or expected,” said senior Katie Ligocki. “We are definitely progressing, especially as we head into conference play, making sure we are focused up and start getting the outcomes we want.”
The Lady Broncs need to stop giving opposing teams free points from errors, Frey said. So far this season, balls hit into the net, an inability to return a serve or simple infractions have cost the Lady Broncs a few points each game.
With many of the games resulting in tight contests, those points add up, making it harder for Sheridan to win sets.
“Play smart, you do not want to play timid,” Ligocki said on what the team needs to do to improve. “Talking to each other, knowing what is open on the court and where to go with the ball. Knowing it does not have to be a hard-driven kill every single time.”
Frey’s goal for the team is to get the ball over the net on every possession. He wants to stop giving the team free points and make them earn every point scored on the Lady Broncs. This will create long rallies and Frey believes with the consistency of all six players for the Lady Broncs they will win the rallies by either scoring the point or forcing the other team into a mistake.
The Lady Broncs will still make mistakes, Frey said, but he wants to lessen those mistakes each week and try to eliminate them whenever possible. Ligocki also understands that even through mistakes, they need to keep playing as a team.
“Reminding ourselves that we make mistakes and everyone else makes mistakes,” Ligocki said. “We will do a lot better if we shake it off as a team and lift each other up.”
Ligocki said volleyball is a mental game and the team needs to continue working together each night.
“Being fluid with one another,” Ligocki said on what the team needs to improve. “There are certain times when our passes are really on or our hits are really on. Just putting everything together so that the passes, sets and hits are good all night.”
The Lady Broncs are building around consistency and not relying on one person to win the set for the team.
“You have to have all six players to win a volleyball game, not just one,” senior Abby Sanders said.
At least two, if not three, players touch the ball and are needed to set up a play, Frey said. Volleyball is unique because one player for a team cannot dominate possession of the ball. Frey provided an example: In basketball you can run everything through the best player on the team and rely on them to score the most points for the team.
In volleyball, if you try to have the same player spike the ball each time, it will be easy for the opposing teams to set up the block because they know where the ball is going. Frey’s strategy is to have a balanced attack and keep teams guessing.
The Lady Broncs will be home Thursday for the first time this year against conference opponent Thunder Basin High School. The team’s record against conference teams will determine seeding for the postseason and decide the path the Lady Broncs must travel to qualify for the state tournament.
“They are very important,” Sanders said about conference games. “I think the tournament games are just to get us warmed up and to get us ready for the conference games.”
As far as Frey is concerned, Sheridan is 0-1 right now after the first conference game, and the team is focused on the next conference game against Thunder Basin.
“We are getting really well prepared for our home game against Thunder Basin,” Sanders said. “We are trying to show everyone what we got.”
Frey and his players are ready to finally host a game, avoiding a long bus ride. The home crowd can help energize the Lady Broncs, especially when the gym is packed.
“When a lot of people are there the energy gets so much higher and we all play amazing,” Sanders said.
Sanders, Ligocki and the other seniors will be playing their final season for the blue and gold.
“Since it is my senior year, my goal is to remind myself that every game is almost my last game,” Ligocki said. “Just soaking it all in, trying to make this enjoyable and successful for the seniors and our teammates.”
Sanders said she hopes to change the attitude of the program and leave it better than she found it.
Sheridan and Thunder Basin play at 6 p.m. today, with both teams looking to earn a conference victory.