Northern Wyoming News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Alex Kuhn
Sport Editor 

Consistency the key for the Lady Bobcats as postseason nears


October 11, 2018


Lady Bobcat Kelly Johnson tips the ball over the Wyoming Indian defense during the Lady Bobcat Invitational on Sept. 29 at Hot Springs County High School.

THERMOPOLIS - Consistency on the volleyball court has been a big focal point for the Hot Springs County Lady Bobcats all season long. When they have attained it, they've played their best matches of the season but when it has eluded them, things tend to go poorly. The latter was the case last week for them.

After a loss to Worland, in which they battled with the Lady Warriors, Thermopolis hosted the Glenrock Lady Herders on senior night. Emotions tend to run high on senior night but to coach Shannon Hill, her team handled their emotions but the biggest problem in their 3-0 (25-17, 25-11, 25-21) loss was inconsistent play.

"Senior night is always difficult because of emotions, but it's the same story different game. We had 22 kills on 22 errors for hitting. We're not finishing the ball and have been inconsistent. The unforced errors are really hurting us. We got in some long rallies and in the third game played well but it was too little, too late," said Hill.

Losing to Glenrock was a disappointment, to say the least. To the Lady 'Cats credit, when it came time for Monday's practice they were sharp, ready to work hard and focused.

The unforced errors have hurt the Lady 'Cats all season long and Hill has challenged her hitters that if each of them fixes one error in each game, they're more than likely to win those games and the match as a result.

"They knew I was pretty upset after that game and Monday they came ready and we had a good, intense practice. I've been working with our setter to be more consistent for our hitters. Also, we've been going through using our shots for our hitters. If the pass is off and the set is off they can't just swing away. They have to make a shot so we're not getting these 22 errors.

"We've talked a lot – even in our match against Worland – we're losing these games by four or five points. All it takes is for each hitter to fix one ball and we get that game. Having those conversations about how easy of a fix it is, because we're right there, have helped," said Hill.

Hill has also worked with her hitters on reading and reacting to each situation. She likes the aggressiveness and wants that to drive them, but there also times when going for the big kill is going to end up being another unforced error.

"My biggest hitters are Kelly Johnson, Sesi Jensen and Ashley McPhie and they have a ton of attempts, which is what I want, but they also have multiple errors that we cannot have. Talking with Sesi, against Glenrock whenever she did her power tip or off-tempo shot it fell every single time. I used that as an example that it's OK not to swing 100 percent all the time. It clicked for her this week and she's made some shots where she's taken a little off and it fell on the back line," said Hill.

Earlier in the season after a poor outing at the Rawlins Invitational tournament on Sept. 7-8, Hill wanted to motivate her varsity team. In doing so she took each player's varsity jersey and challenged them to get it back by earning it in practice. The challenge worked and the Lady 'Cats played much better in the following weeks.

After this late-season bump in the road, Hill has told her team if a starter is off that night they'll likely be subbed out for one of the reserve players. And having gone to her bench in the matches against Worland and Glenrock, Hill's starters have responded well to the latest challenge.

"I have more subs on my bench and against both Glenrock and Worland I used them. I think it's a good reminder for my starters that they have girls behind them that can play. That they can't get complacent on the court because the subs can come in. It's been a good eye-opener for the starters," said Hill.

The Lady 'Cats have two regular season matches remaining, both on the road and against 3A Northeast division teams. Friday's match is against the Newcastle Lady Dogies and on Oct. 19 they finish against the Buffalo Lady Bison.

Thermopolis has beaten Newcastle once before on Sept. 14, 3-0 (25-15, 25-19, 25-15) and the goal tomorrow is to repeat those results and build momentum heading into their match against Buffalo.

"Coming off a few losses it can wear on you pretty good. Gaining our confidence back and using that game to realize if we can stay consistent we get these matches to stay consistent.

"Buffalo was the same way when we played them, it was four or five points each game. If we can get that consistency and confidence back in Newcastle we can carry that into Buffalo and at least go into regionals with some wins," said Hill.

Ending the season with back-to-back wins would be a huge momentum boost for the Lady 'Cats, heading into the 3A East regional tournament. But it before getting too far ahead of themselves, Hill wants them to take it match to match, game by game and point to point. And along with playing more consistent, they need to fight for each and every win.

"It takes one game at a time and one point at a time, that's where our focus needs to be. State is our end goal and I think it's very attainable for us this year but we have to focus point-by-point and find that consistency," said Hill. "It's not going to come easy we may have to face Buffalo or Torrington to go to state. We just can't sit back and think it's going to happen. We have to show up to work. That's how we've been approaching practice this week and the girls have been pretty into it too."


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