Bullard bests Paris in 4-set battle in bi-district round
Following their tiebreaking win for third place in the district standings over North Lamar on Monday, the Paris Lady Wildcats embarked on their 2020 postseason journey. On Thursday night, the Lady ’Cats faced a familiar foe in No. 13-ranked Bullard. When the teams matched up at Bullard High School earlier in the regular season, Paris triumphed in five sets. This time at the Wills Point High School gymnasium, the outcome was different.
Paris played hard and presented a very tough challenge to a fundamentally-sound Bullard squad throughout the match. However, the Lady Panthers earned a pivotal third-set win on their way to a Bi-District championship in four sets. The Lady ’Cats were defeated by a final score of 13-25, 25-19, 24-26, and 25-18.
“I would say we were right there,” Lady ’Cats head volleyball coach Ashley Green said. “If we won that third set, then I think we would’ve won the match. We just couldn’t finish the game. We just kept making errors on our side and they used that to their advantage.”
The third set provided plenty of excitement for the fans in attendance. Bullard jumped out to an early 8-4 lead that forced Green to use a timeout. Paris got back in the match after an Ava Tidwell block cut the deficit to 13-11, but Bullard rattled off the next four points to open up a 17-11 lead. Paris burned its final timeout of the set, but the Lady ’Cats got cooking on the court.
Junior outside hitter Macey McAmis threw some offspeed at the Bullard defense with a roll kill, then junior middle Presli Chapman followed an errant Bullard attack with a kill of her own. At this point, Paris trailed 18-14. The Lady Panthers were able to create some breathing room with a 21-15 lead. However, a Reece Reavis kill and a block and a kill from Paris’ lone senior Hannah Gibbons trimmed Bullard’s lead to 21-18. The Lady Panthers called a timeout, but the Lady ’Cats kept coming.
A few points later, McAmis punished a ball for a thunderous kill that shook the gym and tied the score at 22-all in the process. After the teams exchanged points, Gibbons hammered home a kill to put Paris in front at 24-23. However, with its back against the wall, Bullard delivered with a decisive 3-0 run to take the set at 26-24.
Bullard pulled away in the middle of the first set for the only double-digit victory by either team. After that, Paris responded with a big second-set performance. The offensive aggression and defensive hustle were contagious between all the Lady ’Cat players as Paris dictated the tempo against a reeling Bullard squad.
The teams remained close to another through the first half of the set. After Bullard used a 3-0 run to tie the score at 13-13, Paris hit another gear. Two kills from McAmis and one from Gibbons put the Lady ’Cats ahead 16-13. Down the stretch, huge kills from McAmis and play from the entire team the rest of the way paced Paris to the win.
“Like I told my girls, we did some really good things,” Green said. “When we were on offensively we were on. Another thing would be our defense. We were trying to get the ball up any way we could and those are all positives. We had good defense and offense, we just couldn’t be consistent enough to win a tough game like that against Bullard.”
Paris hung tough with Bullard in the fourth set even though the girls trailed 2-1 in the set count. Back-to-back kills from Gibbons put Paris in front 11-10. A few points later, Tidwell recorded a huge block to give Paris a 16-15 lead. Tidwell’s block marked the fifth lead change in the set, but only one more came after that. Following the block, the Lady Panthers outscored Paris 10-2 to close the match.
Statistics will be provided when available.
Despite playing amidst uncertain times in the world and having to handle other forms of adversity along the way, Green is proud of what the team was able to accomplish. Going forward, she wants to continue to lead them on the right path and help the girls become the best players and people they can be.
“With Covid, we had a lot of challenges with the masks and not being able to go to tournaments or play extra games to get more consistent with playing time,” Green said. “We just never knew if we were going to be quarantined or if a team we were playing would. This year was hard. Covid was tough for us but I never let that be a factor. I told them every time we step on the court, it’s a win for us. We need to do the right things on and off the court so we are successful. I am very proud of my team. They had great moments and it’s so hard for me because I know they have so much potential. We’ve even talked about the possibility of making a run to state one year. I’m so proud of them though and want to work with them on being consistent.”
Green will have the chance to get to work with her whole team minus one player. Gibbons, the lone senior, played her last high school match on Thursday night. Despite that, Green has enjoyed her time working with Gibbons and is confident she will succeed in whatever is in store for her.
“I had four seniors last year and, with Hannah, it’s just so different with one,” Green said. “At times, I felt so bad for Hannah because it was just her. Sometimes, it doesn’t all mean the same for seniors. I’m very proud of her, though, she stepped it up. If she wasn’t on offensively, she was great with her blocking. She was huge with her blocks against Bullard, too. She stepped up for us in so many ways. It’s sad to see her go because I’ve been with her since seventh grade. I could get onto her and she always knew what she needed to do. She always had great manners and was respectful, and I know she is going to do big things.”
The Lady ’Cats season comes to an end while Bullard moves on to face Farmersville in the Area Round. The North Lamar Pantherettes also played on Thursday night. The Pantherettes faced No. 2-ranked Lindale at Mt. Vernon High School and lost in straight sets. North Lamar did put up a solid challenge but fell to the Lady Eagles by a final score of 15-25, 20-25, and 15-25. For more sports coverage, click here.