SPORTS >> Fifth coach in five years
By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor
North Pulaski has a brand new head volleyball coach for the fifth time in five years, but at least it’s not a brand new face for the Lady Falcon players.
Amanda Hill, who is entering her fifth year at NPHS, is taking over the reigns left by last year’s one-and-done Melissa Reeves, who is now the head volleyball and basketball coach at Jacksonville.
Hill has had the opportunity to take the head volleyball job a couple of times in her tenure as an assistant, and finally chose to accept the offer this year.
“I’m tired of the kids getting cheated,” Hill said. “This is the fifth year with their fifth different coach. It’s not fair to them. I’ve been here four years. I’m not going anywhere. They deserve some stability.”
Hill is taking over a team that has been very successful in its conference, but she’s also taking over a team that is entering a much tougher conference. Unlike NP’s former AAAA-Southeast, the new AAAAA-East consists of three teams in the northeast corner that have players from Jonesboro’s strong Junior Olympic program. There are also more teams in the conference, so making the playoffs will be a much tougher chore, all this on the heels of losing its best setter and best hitter.
“This is definitely a much tougher than what we’ve been in,” Hill said. “For us to be successful we’re going to have to have a change of philosophy, especially after losing such a powerful force in Lauren Wilcox.”
So what is North Pulaski’s new philosophy?
“We’re working on changing the focus to a more defensive team,” Hill said. “From the first day we’ve tried to instill defense into the mindset of this team. We’re going to have to cover better and dig balls that we haven’t been digging in the past. We don’t have that player that we can just rely on to score, so we’re going to have to keep balls alive and force people to make mistakes.”
Hill said her team is far from being able to name a starting lineup, but did give a few names that will be depended upon this season.
Lakreshia Cash is the team’s top returning hitter. Taneshai Ridgeway has been one of the best players on the back row getting digs in practice. Sophomore Jennifer Peters has played good defense as well, and senior Taylor Barrow has stood out so far as the setter.
“We’ve got some players that are stepping up, but we’re a long way from where we need to be. Our first match is a week from Thursday, and hopefully we’ll be ready by then,” Hill said.