Lady Jackets’ inexperience shows in first loss


SHERIDAN — Head coach Candice Lawless admitted it wasn’t the best the game to watch.

Her Sheridan Lady Jackets had just gotten swept 3-0 (25-22, 25-17, 25-12) at home by Hot Springs Lakeside on Thursday night inside Oliver Williams Gym.

“Inconsistency in passing and serving,” Lawless said were the main issues. “I don’t think we ever got over that being down in the first game.”

Lawless was referencing the 9-3 deficit Sheridan faced early in the opening set. Despite rallying, including taking a 20-19 lead at one point, the Lady Jackets (1-1) weren’t able to complete the comeback and never really threatened the Lady Rams (2-0) over the final two sets.

It was a disappointing follow-up to Sheridan’s season-opening sweep of Malvern on Monday. However, considering the Lady Jackets inexperience — with only one senior and one junior having played on varsity in 2013 — the struggles Thursday night were probably to be expected.

“They just need more experience,” Lawless said of her team. “Maybe a little tougher practices.

“We just have to play and it will come along.”

Lawless did see some positives to take out of Thursday’s loss.

“They’re communicating much better than they were at the beginning (of practices),” she said. “We definitely had some great moments … but we need more of the good stuff.

“We’re good at doing two or three big things; we’re just not so great at making it happen more often.”

Lawless is confident the moments will become more frequent as her first year as Sheridan’s head coach continues.

Lawless, the freshman team coach at North Little Rock for the past seven years, took over as the Lady Jackets coach during a whirlwind week in July. Former Sheridan head coach Debbie Blend decided to move down to the middle-school level setting off the quick search process.

“I applied for the middle school (volleyball) job,” Lawless said of how the process started. “I got an interview on a Thursday, and when I came in they told me some things had changed and now (the high school job) was available. I was hired the following Monday and officially started working that Wednesday.

“I had literally one day to try and pack up my classroom and move down here.”

Lawless said the players have handled the sudden coaching change really well.

“They’ve adjusted well,” she said. “It was a bit of a shock how quickly the changes happened.

“There’s so much potential, and we’ll get there. We just have to work together better.”

The coach believes the future is bright. Hopes of building a successful program could come to fruition as early as next year with 19 combined sophomores and juniors on this year’s varsity and JV squads.

“They are going to be our future,” she said. “Them and the junior high kids we’ll have moving up.

“The younger we can get them started the better.”