Riley Owen and Jenna Lowery each finished their careers as Paris volleyball players by being part of the Lady Eagles’ third consecutive 3A championship squad.
The two will get to play together one last time on Friday as teammates on the West All-Stars as part of the 2018 Arkansas High School Coaches Association All-Star volleyball game. It will take place at 6 p.m. in Conway on the University of Central Arkansas campus.
“It’s going to be great; I’ve played with Jenna for so many years, we’ve played together since we were in fifth or sixth grade, so we’ve always been around each other,” Owen said. “It was great to be able to play with her all through high school and in travel season, so it would be great to be able to play one more game with her.”
Both Owen and Lowery are also following in the footsteps of members of their respective families who were also All-Stars. Owen’s older sister, Haley, played in the game, as did Lowery’s aunt (then Jordan Vines and now Jordan Devine) and cousin (Daisy Mitchell).
“It’s just going to be a great honor to be able to do that,” Lowery said. “I’m kind of living up to a lot of people in my family; my aunt played in the volleyball All-Star game and also my cousin got invited to play in it, so it was kind of like pressure wanting to be able to play in it and finally got to find out I was going to it, it’s an amazing feeling.”
Riley Owen, who played setter for the Lady Eagles, was the team’s leader in aces this past season with 73 and in assists with 854.
Winning state was extra special for Owen, because she didn’t get to play in the Lady Eagles’ run to their second straight 3A title in 2016 because she suffered a series of severe injuries right before they played in the state tournament.
“I had an ACL and a meniscus torn two weeks before the state tournament my junior year,” Owen said. “It was so heartbreaking because I was so looking forward to state because we were going to be hosting it that year; I was thinking what was going to happen and who we were going to play, I was thinking about state, I was thinking about wanting to win another state title and then I had my injury.”
But Owen didn’t dwell on being sidelined for too long. She immediately worked toward getting healthy again.
“As soon as it happened, I called a surgeon, we got a surgeon picked out, I figured out where I was going to have therapy and I started therapy before the state tournament even happened,” Owen said. “Most people stay on crutches for about a month, but by the time state finals came which was two weeks after my injury, I was already on one crutch and walking.
“I was very determined to be able to play my senior year with my team, to come back. ... My physical therapist actually released me a month earlier than he had originally planned for me to start playing again because I was so determined to come back and be able to play with my fellow teammates again and my fellow seniors, and to have one last ride as a volleyball player in Paris.”
Also enjoying her last go-round as a Lady Eagle was Lowery, a libero who led the team in digs (627) and service-receptions (587).
“It was awesome to be able to do that with all of my teammates; we worked really hard together for a long time and to be able to actually do it and actually finish out strong was just a great accomplishment,” Lowery said.
Of the three consecutive state championships she won, Lowery said the third and final one was the most satisfying to her.
“Probably my senior year because I got to play alongside all of my teammates and we have been playing together since seventh grade,” she said. “We’ve been playing school ball and travel and JO ball, so being able to play alongside those girls and win was just an amazing feeling to be able to do that with them.”
Friday’s All-Star game is also meaningful to both Owen and Lowery because they will get to play one more time for their coach at Paris, Wes Davis, who will be an assistant on the West squad.
Davis will be taking over as coach at Greenbrier this upcoming season and he was replaced by Devine, Lowery’s aunt who was promoted from assistant coach as she now gets set for Paris’ quest to win a fourth straight state title this fall.
“It is going to be different next year, but I think that they’ve got what it takes to be successful if they get their minds set and know they can do it,” Lowery said.
Both Owen and Lowery will also get to continue their volleyball careers at the next level.
Owen will be playing at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, while Lowery is going to play at John Brown University in Siloam Springs.
But both are ready to make one last impression as teammates on Friday.
“Just to be able to be picked to go to the All-Star game was something I never would have even thought of, even a year ago when I had my injury,” Owen said. “When I got the call that I was in it, I screamed, I jumped up and down, I was so happy. ... When I found out Jenna was in it, I was just as proud to have her alongside me because we had been together for so many years.”
The AHSCA All-Star games will have a new format this year as the games will be played Friday and Saturday in Conway.
On Friday, the volleyball, baseball, softball and both soccer games will be played, while both basketball games and the football game takes place on Saturday.