Paris knew going into this week that it would be a challenging week for the Lady Eagles. On Monday, Paris traveled to Mena to play the perennial Class 4A powerhouse Mena Lady Bearcats, and in less than 24 hours, would return home on Tuesday to resume conference play against the Elkins Lady Elks. And, of course, today, it is part one of the two game regular season showdown series with the defending Class 3A state champions, Hackett Lady Hornets. Today’s match at Hackett will be the first of two matches between the two teams with Hackett returning the home game at Paris in approximately two weeks.
Paris lost Monday’s non-conference match at Mena by the set scores of 25-23, 25-17, and 25-16. Paris fought hard throughout each set, but after a first set that could have gone either way, the Lady Bearcats began to dominate a Paris front line who was not use to having matches dominated to them. It was the second straight year that Paris suffered a lopsided loss at Mena. In 2020, Paris suffered a big loss just before the team was quarantined for the next two weeks.
After the loss at Mena, the Lady Eagles returned home to the friendly environment of Paris Gymnasium to resume conference play against Elkins. It turned out to be good timing in the schedule for Paris, allowing them to quickly play again and get the bad taste out of their mouths from the Mena loss. On this night, it was Paris returning to their dominate ways against the Lady Elks and remaining undefeated in conference play. The win was mental therapy for a team that did not play well the night before and should help Paris as it now travels to Hackett to play the defending state champions.
In the first match of the year in 2020at Hackett, the Lady Eagles won a close match in five sets to defeat the Lady Hornets on their home floor. The two teams would not meet again that year in the regular season due to unusual circumstances due to the COVID pandemic, and the next meeting would again be on the Hackett home floor in the finals of the district tournament. On that day, it was the Hackett Lady Hornets soundly defeating Paris for the district tournament championship. A few weeks later, the two teams met a third time on Halloween afternoon in Hot Springs in the Class 3A state championship match. And on that day, it was Hackett routing the Lady Eagles in three sets for the state championship.
The Lady Hornets are extremely well-coached by Bridget Freeman, and she will have her team ready to go tonight when the Lady Eagles step off the bus in Hackett. It should be another epic match of high school volleyball. In fact, it is a big night in the state of Arkansas for volleyball as this match, as well as the two top teams overall in the state, the Fayetteville Lady Bulldogs and Springdale Har-Ber will play tonight in Fayetteville. As is the case tonight in Hackett, the game in Fayetteville could be a preview of the state championship matches in Hot Springs next month.
Resident Press will be in Hackett tonight for the Lady Eagles’ match with the Lady Hornets. Watch for this story on Sunday in Resident Press. Photos from the match will also be available on Facebook at Paris Eagles Sports on Sunday night.
So, volleyball fans, get to your games early tonight, whether you are going to Hackett or to Fayetteville, and enjoy a great night for high school volleyball! See you there!