After an adrealine-filled battle at Hackett last Thursday evening, the Paris Lady Eagles faced another step in their maturity of becoming a good, young team that is ready to make a run in the state playoffs. The Lady Eagles went on the road Monday night for what can be characterized as a business trip as they visited Waldron. It was up to the young Paris team to go back on the road and focus on a Waldron team that is capable of beating anyone, and taking care of the business of not dropping a conference match. From this point forward, Paris and Hackett are clearly the top two teams in the conference that will be battling for a conference championship and the top seed in either the district tournament, or as a number one seed in the state tournament. Both tournaments are still up in the air with respect to the COVID virus and if the tournaments will be played. But just as it has been for all high school athletes this year, the Lady Eagles have to focus on each step and not worry about things they cannot control.
If one makes the assumption that both Hackett and Paris will win-out for the next three weeks, that means that the October 6 rematch with Hackett in Paris will be for all of the marbles. Obviously, if Paris wins the second match, then it is in all likliehood over with respect to the conference championship. Paris would have to lose twice to someone else in the conference just for the two schools to be tied again in the standings. Then, tie breakers would come into play to determine the champion and the number one seed.
But Hackett will show-up big in Paris on October 6, and all of that will remain to be seen after what promises to be “Super Fight 2” when the two teams meet for a second time. If Hackett wins the second match, then games like Monday night at Waldron become very important. Not losing sets in victories is extremely important for both Paris and Hackett, and margin of victory may also play a role. The last time I spoke to a conference coach about the tie breaker scenarios, the coach indicated that no one seems to know at this point what the process will be to determine the top seeds. It does, however, appear to be fairly certain that order of finish in the regular conference season could very well determine who makes the state tournament and what their seedings will be.
On Monday night, Paris came out and took control early against Waldron and were never seriously threatened on their way to a 3-0 sweep of the Lady Bulldogs. Paris (8-1, 7-0) maintains its lead in the 3A-West and will return home on Thursday night to host the West Fork Lady Tigers. It will be a continued test for the Lady Eagles to take each opponent seriously and not look past anyone before the October 6 rematch with Hackett. Currently, Paris owns the tie breaker advantage in conference wins and in sets won and lost. Paris gave Hackett three set losses, and Hackett gave Paris two set losses, so Paris has a +1 advantage in sets. A set loss to someone other than Hackett would be critical. If Paris sweeps everyone up to the rematch, it would force Hackett to sweep Paris 3-0 on October 6.
From this point on, every serve, every return, every set, and certainly, every match is important. Paris will step out of the conference on September 21 to play a non-conference match with 4A volleyball power Mena, and, the night before “Super Fight 2”, will play on the road in another non-conference match against 4A Fountain Lake. Neither the Fountain Lake or Mena matches will affect the conference standings, but there will be other intangibles that will come into play. So for the Lady Eagles, it is simple: play one match at a time, and take each opponent seriously. October 6 will come soon enough, but until then, it is all about taking care of business, just like they did Monday night in Waldron.
Thursday’s matches against West Fork at Paris Gymnasium are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. Seventh grade, Junior A, Senior B, and Senior A games are scheduled to be played. Come out and enjoy the action on Thursday! This Lady Eagles team has passed every test and is developing into a state contender each time they take the floor.
And as always, Resident Press will be there to bring you all of the action. Watch for a recap in RP of Thursday’s battle with the West Fork Lady Tigers on Friday in Resident Press.
See you at Paris Gymnasium on Thursday!