The Paris Lady Eagles volleyball team continued their dominance in Class 3A volleyball Tuesday night with a 3-0 win at Mansfield. Paris defeated the Lady Tigers 25-18, 25-19, and 25-9. The win improved the Lady Eagles record to 24-1 and a perfect 11-0 in conference. Paris entered the week ranked number one in Class 3A by Max Preps, and 13th overall in Arkansas across all classifications. Paris continues its march toward a perfect conference season and the top seed in the upcoming senior high district tournament. But for Paris fans, the most encouraging news of the night was the return of senior middle player Faith Mainer. The Paris starter has missed games the past two weeks and appears to be moving back into her starting position. As a dominate middle player, her return is certainly good news for Paris as it prepares to defend its state title.
Although the Lady Tigers lost both the junior and senior high matches, both games were very competitive. Mansfield has steadily improved throughout the season, and particularly, with the junior high’s performance all season, as well as last evening, the future of Mansfield volleyball is bright for next year. For the remainder of this season, Mansfield could be a surprise in this year’s junior and senior high district tournaments. Mansfield’s junior high team is very talented and pushed Paris to the brink before eventually losing. If the junior Tigers get hot on the day of the junior high district tournament, they could threaten Paris for the junior district championship.
Mansfield’s senior high team also played very well against the defending state champions. In their first meeting at Paris, Mansfield pushed Paris in one set before eventually losing. Last evening, the Lady Tigers pushed Paris in two sets.
This season, the 3A-1 district will only have three teams that will qualify for the state tournament. Going into tournament play, Mansfield will be targeting Charleston, Booneviile, and Waldron for one of the remaining playoff spots should Paris win the district tournament. This all means that the Lady Tigers will have to win two games in the district tournament to qualify for state. If the Lady Tigers can continue to improve, play together, and finish sets, they have the opportunity to pull an upset in the district tournament and further their chances to qualify for the state tournament.
Mansfield will have starter Brooke Wright back for her senior year in 2020, as well as a talented junior high team that will play senior high games next year. All of this combined with Mansfield’s volleyball team moving to Class 2A next season, and the Lady Tigers could be competing for a state title in 2A next year.
It is almost tournament time, and everyone knows that once tournament play begins, anything can happen. There are plenty of stories out there where teams have dominated another throughout the season to only lose to them at tournament time when it matters most. Tournament success is often about who is hot and playing their best at tournament time. The best team does not always win; a team just has to beat them one time.
Both Paris and Mansfield have a lot to play for over the coming weeks. If you are a sports fan, you will not want to miss the conclusion of the regular season next week. Charleston travels to Mansfield next week, and that game will be a big step for Mansfield to mentally prepare themselves for the district tournament. Paris will be playing to wrap up a perfect conference season. The Lady Eagles came within an eyelash of running the table on a perfect overall season. They will be very tough to beat when everyone starts playing for the hardware of a state championship.
It should be fun. See you at the games!