Greenwood Fights Off Test From Paris
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In the midst of all the asterisks on the Greenwood schedule denoting 7A/6A Central games, one game was left empty.
It probably should have read “trap” next to it.
The Lady Bulldogs had enough to withstand 3A Paris’ best effort Monday night in a rare midseason nonconference game, 25-20, 25-17, 25-15.
Greenwood had too much class and too much depth for a Paris team Lady Bulldogs coach Jennifer Golden said was better than many schools three times its size.
“They took us to five games last year. In our gym. These aren’t sleeper games. They’re a good team,” Golden said.
Greenwood consistently held five- and six-point leads Monday. Rarely were they much more and, at times, they were much less. But the Lady Bulldogs had too many weapons and Paris kept hoping for a run that never came.
The closest they came was coming back from a 22-15 deficit, reeling off five straight points behind two kills and a block from outside hitter Daisy Mitchell to pull within two. But a pair of Lady Eagles errors clinched the first game.
It was a similar tale the next two.
“When you play up, maybe you worry about them coming and rubbing your nose in it a little bit, but my girls, I think, fought tooth and nail with them all night,” Paris coach Wes Davis said. “Ball bounces a couple ways, we might have gotten four sets out of them.”
Mitchell’s play was a big part of it. She had a game-high 12 kills and added three aces and a block. Sophomore Morgan Highfield did her part, too, with seven more kills.
Golden was impressed.
“(Mitchell) is a player. She’s a force where she’s at,” she said. “Just a player. I expect good things out of Paris.”
Like Greenwood last year in 6A, Paris, too, is a season removed from a state runner-up finish. The two previous seasons saw the Lady Eagles in the state quarterfinals and semifinals, too. Davis is beginning to build a brand in Logan County with players like Mitchell.
“We call her Tigger,” he said. “The way she bounces, she can jump out of the gym and she’s real aggressive. We’re trying to get it to where we’re rolling better and where we want to stay. But to do that, you have to play someone like Greenwood, three classes higher.”
Playing down three classes and against Central bottom-feeder Little Rock Hall on Tuesday ahead of a showdown with rival and conference favorite Southside on Thursday, Golden was a little wary of some on-court sleepiness against Paris.
Save a few hiccups, she was satisfied. The Lady Bulldogs offense has taken major steps in the season’s opening third.
All-conference outside hitter Maddie Gilliam is tested and can prove it. But a team with only one other senior is still finding its footing on the attack in the early going. Freshman right side Madi Pfeifer is a good place to start. The 6-foot, 3-inch ninth-grader had seven kills and an ace to go along with Gilliam’s nine kills, an ace and two blocks.
“We’re still working on some things and it showed tonight - spreading out the offense. That’s something we’re working on so we can be a force across the net,” Golden said. “Not just have them camp out on one person all the time.”