If you are a fan of high school volleyball, the annual Greenwood volleyball camp is a must date to put on your calendar. Held each year just at the end of summer and right before the start of preseason practice, the camp features many teams from all over the state and River Valley. Greenwood has outstanding facilities that includes several courts to keep the matches moving, thus being able to accommodate a large number of participating schools in the camp. It is an excellent final tune-up before schools go into private practices that lead up to the start of the season around August 20 each year. And this year, like each year I have covered the camp, kudos go out to the Greenwood coaching staff and administration on a very well-ran camp.
This year’s camp gave fans an opportunity to see several teams from the region at various classification levels play in the summer camp. In addition to the teams featured in this story, the Lavaca Lady Golden Arrows and the Charleston Lady Tigers also participated, and scheduling just prohibited the photographing of their games. But the 2A, 3A, and 5A West conferences were well-represented at the camp, and if the day was a true indication, the quality of play will be very good again this season. Seeming like a “three ring circus” at times, there was intense action at all courts as games were being played simultaneously in each building.
The Mansfield Lady Tigers, the defending Class 2A state champions, looked very good on the day. Highlighting their day, the Lady Tigers split two-set matches with Fort Smith Northside and Russellville. Mansfield’s height and athleticism is awesome, and the Lady Tigers should be solidly favored to win another 2A state title. Coach Kaylie Pyles is fine tuning her team and should be a force all season.
The host Greenwood Lady Bulldogs have developed a championship tradition of state titles in Class 5A, and the Lady Bulldogs will be impressive again this year. Greenwood has a good mix of experience and young talented players that will make the Lady Bulldogs a state contender for the next few years. I look for Greenwood to seriously contend this year against Benton for the Class 5A state title.
For the Paris Lady Eagles, the summer camps have been an important time to get a young team on the court and develop timing and chemistry with a group of some players who have not played varsity volleyball. But the surprise ascension of freshman Lauren Reames and the great play by the returning Paris seniors, along with junior Karsen Hart, and the Lady Eagles have had a very successful summer. As Paris begins preseason practice for the season opener on August 22, head coach Jordan Devine has to be pleased with where her team is to this point. I asked the Lady Eagles’ coach for her impression of the team’s progress, and she replied by saying, “Our team played well all day. We have some things to work on, and the girls are ready to get back to practice.” And if I know Coach Devine the way I think I do, I would expect her to ratchet up the intensity and the focus of the team’s workouts, especially seeing the potential that they have displayed this summer. To borrow Razorbacks baseball coach Dave Van Horn’s motto; it will be “All gas and no brakes” for the Lady Eagles’ practices leading up to the start of the season.
On a final note, it has impressed me with this team that not only is the team a loose and fun group of players during games, but their coach has also taken on a mirror image of the team. The chemistry of the players and the coaching staff seems to be at a very high level, and for a young team that does not believe that they will drop off in their performance this year the way some have forecasted, it all adds up to a very fun group that Eagles fans will enjoy watching this year. They have a lot of work ahead of them as the season progress, but it should be a fun journey.
So thanks to the Greenwood volleyball program for their hospitality, and on a personal note, I would like to thank them for their support in helping me photograph games and with access to the courts. And to all of the teams, best of luck in your 2022 seasons!
Stay with RNN Sports this season for the best coverage of River Valley high school volleyball coverage!