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Fort Smith
Thursday, August 18, 2022

“We Got Better as a Team Today”

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Last year’s state title for the Lady Eagles is old news, and the 2022 edition of Paris volleyball is a glimpse into the next two to three years for the program. And yesterday, the Lady Eagles played a very challenging camp schedule at Benton High School in preparation for the upcoming season. For Paris, it was more about re-establishing the competitive culture in the program’s young team that will compete in the 3A West this fall. And boy did they find plenty of competition in Benton!

Paris played two-set matches against perennial 5A power Valley View from Jonesboro, Little Rock Christian, and 5A power and host Benton Lady Panthers. The talent in the gym was awesome and represented as tough of a competitive schedule strength that the Lady Eagles will face all season.

As an example of the talent on the floor, Romani Thurman, daughter of Razorback basketball great, Scotty Thurman, was on the floor for Little Rock Christian. Scotty Thurman was in the stands to watch her talented daughter, as well as the many other talented athletes that morning. Thurman’s daughter, Romani, committed in October 2021 to play Division 1 volleyball at the University of North Carolina.

On the day, the Lady Eagles lost two sets to Valley View, losing a close first set by the score of 25-21. The Lady Blazers won the second set as well, this time with the set being called by time limit and the set score of 24-20.

In the second match, Paris took on Little Rock Christian. The Lady Tigers defeated Paris in the first set by the score of 25-21. In set two, Paris was in position to win late, but committed critical serving errors and lost the set by the score of 25-18.

To the credit of the young Lady Eagles, they were very competitive in their first two matches. In fact, it wasn’t until Paris played a very strong and athletic team of Benton Lady Panthers until it was quickly apparent they were over-matched. Benton defeated Paris in both sets, 25-17 and 25-18. Benton’s size and muscular athletes were simply too much for Paris.

But the day was not done for Paris. After a one hour break for the teams to have lunch, Paris faced the remainder of their touch camp schedule with matches against Bryant, Pulaski Academy, and Little Rock Episcopal. The young and scrappy group of Lady Eagles rebounded to defeat Pulaski Academy and Little Rock Episcopal. Not a bad day’s work for a very young team.

At the day’s end, I spoke with Paris head coach Jordan Devine by text, and she made the following comments on her team’s play: “Great team camp today! I thought that we showed some grit against some very competitive teams We got better as a team today. I am really excited about this group. They are going to be fun!”

Coach Devine has had some great teams in the past, and has had teams that have won state titles and have been extremely competitive in other years. But, this may be the best coaching job she has done to date. There is good talent on this team, but they are young, and Coach Devine is doing a very good job of teaching, boosting their confidence, and instilling the competitive fire in each player on the roster.

The Lady Eagles will play next week at Greenwood high school in their final camp appearance of the summer. RNN Sports will be there to bring you complete coverage. Additional photos from the Benton camp will be posted on Facebook at Paris Eagles Sports this weekend.

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Jim Best
Jim Best is a man of many talents. His storied career in Arkansas education led him to a new passion, and hidden gifts in sports journalism.
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