The schedule for coaches is frantic.
With school still a couple of weeks away, Lady Eagle Volleyball Head Coach Jordan Devine has been busy with multiple camps for her teams. Though most will focus on the varsity girls and their run toward another title, Devine has expanded the camp schedule for underclassmen.
Junior High camps are not as common and the competition is generally not very good. With that in mind, Devine has taken the Junior Lady Eagles to compete in the JV divisions at senior high camps.
They competed at the Missouri State University camp and made the finals in the JV Silver bracket. Then, while the varsity competed in the large school division to face tougher programs, the Junior Lady Eagles made a run to the semifinals at the small school division at Arkansas Tech University camp. The feat was likely not noticed by many, but Paris continues to develop talent program-wide with an expectation of achievement.
For the varsity Lady Eagles, the MSU camp was truly a week of transition and learning their new roles. They didn’t see the level of play that they are accustomed to, filling the holes left by a large graduating class. Players came in for extra work before practice following the camp while they prepared for the Tech camp.
Devine said there was marked improvement from the first camp to the second. During the week, they competed against larger schools, including wins over Siloam Springs and Skiatook, Oklahoma. In the bracket play, they beat Northside High School and eventually dropped a tough contest to Conway in three sets, the full length of a game in tournament play.
Devine said the Lady Eagles are finding their voice, and part of that is from senior outside hitter Ryleigh Hardwicke. As one of the top players in the state, the return of Hardwicke and Joni Inman should keep a lot of power from the edges.
Replacing the Championship Game MVP, libero Jenna Lowery, who is now playing at John Brown University, looked to be the toughest task in the offseason. That role now belongs to Robyn Gossard, who has stood out the most this preseason. Devine said that Gossard was all over the floor making saves and digging out balls that most gave up on. She looks to bring all the tools needed to sure up the defensive side of play.
The Lady Eagles will have one more camp outing in Greenwood and will be part of the 3A showcase, facing the best teams in their division at Harding Academy on Aug. 18.
The Lady Eagles are putting in the work, from 7th grade on up, and are continuing to grow as a team. Devine has proven roots in player development and manages to balance a grueling schedule and large rosters. It will be worth it when the Lady Eagle Volleyball team takes the court again, this time with Devine sitting in the head coach’s seat.