SHERIDAN — During the past week of practice, the Sheridan High School volleyball team worked on improving many aspects of its game. The Lady Broncs wanted to become better at terminating balls and getting their opponents out of system, things they’d been working on all season long.
One particular area that Sheridan put heightened emphasis on — an area that sometimes gets neglected — was team unity.
“I said, ‘Hey, we got to close in, and make sure we are always doing stuff together,’” Sheridan head coach Eric Frey said. “Sometimes I feel like when a ball gets set, it’s just us and the ball, and we only praise that hitter. It’s not about that hitter, it’s about the pass that came before that. That’s the part of the team unity that we were not getting back to at times. I wanted to make sure we were congratulating every player on that pass, not just the hit or what the by product was. That’s a big deal.”
Frey saw much of that materialize in a victory over winless Cheyenne South Friday, but the true test came Saturday against 4A Southeast Conference leader Laramie. The Lady Broncs needed to play one of its better matches of the season and embody that team philosophy that they worked on all week.
All of it came together as Sheridan earned a four-set win over the Lady Plainsmen.
“We kind of just played like we were together,” Taylor Lee said. “… We just loved each other on the court and played together.”
Sheridan simply took it to Laramie during the first two sets. The Lady Broncs opened set No. 1 strong and finished it just as authoritatively for a 25-20 victory.
Sheridan used a more methodical and business-like approach to take the second set 25-22, and for a moment it appeared as though the Lady Broncs were going to quickly dispatch one of the better teams in the state.
But the Lady Plainsmen woke up and found their rhythm in the third set. Laramie pounced on Sheridan early and aside from a minor speed bump midway through, where the Lady Broncs trimmed their deficit to 16-14, the Lady Plainsmen cruised to a 25-17 win.
“We kind of just took a step back and relaxed,” Lee said.
Laramie kept the Lady Broncs on their heels and pushed forward for a 17-15 lead in set No. 4. Sheridan steadied itself and rekindled the team unity it emphasized last week to rally, scoring 10 of the final 15 points to close out the win.
“We just thought about it and said, ‘This is our game. We got nothing to lose,’” Lee said. “We came out of that rut, fixed our mistakes and didn’t let them put the ball away on us. We didn’t let them affect us. We played our game. We put the ball down and played great.”
With the new quadrant system — Sheridan residing in the Northeast — the victory Saturday isn’t all that impactful. It improves the Lady Broncs to 10-19 on the season but doesn’t help out the 1-3 conference mark.
What the win did do, however, was hammer home the importance of team unity and build up some confidence moving forward into the last few weeks of the season.