Since the Lady Eagles lone loss to Fort Smith Southside on August 27, Paris has rolled off four straight wins in conference play. The latest being another conference route, this time at the hands of the Lincoln Lady Wolves. Paris (6-1, 4-0) will now travel to Hackett on Thursday to face last year’s Class 2A state champions and this year’s new power in the Class 3A West. It will be a huge test for a young Lady Eagles team to play an experienced state champion on their home floor. Eagles fans can be assured that Hackett coach Bridget Freeman will have her team primed and ready to go for the match with Paris that will be for the conference lead.
Paris has not been tested since the loss to Class 7A Southside in Fort Smith. Booneville made some noise in the third set against Paris last week, but in the end, the Lady Eagles still swept the match. So far in conference play, there has been an apparent gap between Hackett, Paris, and the rest of the conference. The Lady Eagles are yet to play Waldron and West Fork, but it seems at this point that Hackett and Paris may be the two teams that will fight it out for the championship and the top seed in the district tournament. Thursday’s match in Hackett should be a good one and will be as good if not better than many of the matches that will be held later in the state tournament.
The Paris front line will be tested against Hackett. The Lady Hornetts have a tradition built by coach Bridget Freeman that includes hard-hitting front line players and a scrappy defense that flies after every ball. Every point will be contested, and the Lady Eagles will have to turn up their intensity to match the energy that the Lady Hornetts will bring in front of their home crowd. In short, it should be a classic between two great programs, and if you like high school volleyball, you will not want to miss this one.
Paris senior Lauren Earle was honored in a special pre-game senior night ceremony as the only Paris senior volleyball player on this year’s team. After the ceremony and playing in the Lady Eagles victory over Lincoln, I asked Lauren what it was like playing on senior night. Lauren said, “It feels good. I am glad I got to be a part of it tonight; it’s like every night.” When I asked her if playing tonight brought back memories of when she started in the program, she said, ” Yes, it seems like it has gone by really fast.” I asked Lauren if she was focused on getting ready for Hackett, she replied, “Yeah, we’re trying to prepare for that one. It is going to be a really good game.”
For Lauren Earle, she has a lot of volleyball left to play this season. She and her Lady Eagles teammates have a big test in front of them on Thursday, but for the loser of this game, the season is not over. The rematch in Paris is set for October 6, and both Thursday’s match and the October 6 match may determine first and second place in the conference and in the conference tournament seedings. If the teams split the two game series, the remainder of the conference schedule will become even more important as tie-breakers begin to come into play to determine tournament seedings. Of course, the ultimate goal for both programs is to win a state title, and the higher seed both programs can achieve going into the state tournament, the better or more advantageous their pathway will be to a potential appearance in the state finals. After Thursday’s match in Hackett, we will know a lot more about both teams.
So, volleyball fans, the first game in Hackett on Thursday starts at 4 p.m. Seventh grade, Jr. A, Senior JV, and Senior A matches are scheduled. It should be a barn burner, and I recommend that you get there early to get a seat.
And Resident Press will be there to bring you all of the action! Stay with Resident Press for the most comprehensive coverage of River Valley volleyball!