The Paris Lady Wildcats volleyball team got its season off to a great start under first-year head coach Ashley Green. The Lady ’Cats welcomed Class 5A Forney to Wildcat Gymnasium on Tuesday night, and nearly found themselves in a 2-0 hole in sets. In addition to that, four-year varsity starter and senior captain Grace Woodby was forced to exit the game with what is believed to be a minor ankle injury. However, the Lady ’Cats battled back and ended up taking down Forney in a 5-set thriller. The final score was 21-25, 28-26, 25-18, 15-25 and 15-12.
“Our team showed what we have been wanting to prove this year, which is to raise the standard,” Paris head volleyball coach Ashley Green said. “In the second set, we lost Grace (Woodby) to an ankle injury, and our girls had to adapt to adversity. I’m very proud of the way they battled back without a senior captain on the court. Skylar Coursey had to play a position she normally doesn’t play, and she did a great job. Everyone did their job with a positive attitude and we stayed together as a team.”
The team certainly stayed together even when the going got tough. Players moved positions, but the unity remained as Paris clawed back from a 1-0 hole and a deficit in the second set, rallying for a 28-26 win. The Lady ’Cats won more comfortably in the third set, but Forney returned the favor in the fourth. In the decisive fifth set, Paris jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, and it was not relinquished en route to the match victory.
Star sophomore Macey McAmis led the charge for Paris with a game-high 20 kills to go with 6 digs. Tori Weatherford managed the offense well with 21 assists to go with 5 kills and 5 digs, while Lilly Lewis played well finishing with 6 kills and 22 assists.
Coursey also had a strong outing with 9 digs and a kill, moving from the libero position to outside hitter for her injured teammate Woodby. Sophomore Presli Chapman was a force on the front line with 10 kills and a block. Hannah Gibbons also hit the ball well, ending her night with 11 kills, while Riley Bills added 6 digs.
Pantherettes sweep Sherman, fall to Sulphur Springs in 3 sets
The North Lamar Pantherettes volleyball team was also in action Tuesday night as it held a three-way matchup featuring Class 5A schools Sherman and Sulphur Springs.
The Pantherettes started out against the Lady Wildcats, competed well against them in three close sets but ultimately could not pick up the win falling by a final score of 25-27, 24-26 and 17-25. However, North Lamar bounced back nicely with an impressive sweep over Sherman, winning the match by a final score of 25-21, 25-17 and 25-22.
“Out of those games, I really like how I could actually see us getting better after every set,” North Lamar head volleyball coach Sara Beth Upchurch said. “That means we are adjusting well and being coachable. Aside from wanting to work on fundamentals, I appreciate their effort to get better set to set and point to point.”
Official game stats were not available. With the season now underway, Upchurch is looking for her team to not only sharpen its mind, but also stay true to its identity and who they are, which had them on the cusp of the regional tournament a season ago.
“Right now, I really want us to work on our mental game,” Upchurch said. “I want us to stay mentally tougher than every opponent we face. Volleyball specifically, I want us to keep a very fast tempo.
“We are generally a short team, especially against 4A opponents and up, so keeping our offense quick and not giving the defense time to adjust is very important to our success.”
Both Paris and North Lamar are slated to compete in the Van Tournament with pool play games for each team beginning Friday. The tournament ends Saturday with both schools’ pools, opponents and game times to be announced.