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Paris Junior College defeated Navarro College in a key volleyball contest Wednesday night, coming back from a first-set loss to win 18-25, 25-18, 5-14, 25-17.
With the victory, the No. 11 nationally ranked Dragons improved to 27-6 overall and 5-3 in Region XIV, clinching second place in the North Zone of the nation’s toughest junior college conference.
That means a better first-round match-up in the Nov. 8-10 double-elimination regional tournament in Tyler of Region XIV, the nation’s toughest volleyball conference.
In the latest national juco volleyball poll, announced Wednesday, Tyler (North) was ranked No. 1; Blinn (South) No. 2; Paris (North) No. 11; San Jacinto (South) No. 13; Panola (North) No. 14; and Laredo (South Zone) No. 17.
By virtue of finishing second in the North, the Dragons avoid having a first-round match-up with Blinn or San Jacinto.
Trinity Valley and Panola played Wednesday night, with third place in the North going to the winner. In the South, Lee was expected to join Blinn, San Jac and Laredo in the tournament.
The win over Navarro followed a frustrating pattern for Coach Justin Maness’ team at the Hunt Center this season. Repeatedly, the Dragons have had to battle back after losing the first set.
“I’ll have to say right now, this is the first team I’ve had that doesn’t play well at home. I’m not real sure why,” Maness said after Wednesday’s win over Navarro, which fell to 0-8 in Region XIV play.
“We can do an away game and look like a million bucks, but it seems to take us the first set to get going at home,” Maness said.
The Dragons had to win several consecutive points just to get within 25-18 on the opening set. They then took charge the rest of the way.
“We knew Navarro was going to come in and play hard. They always play hard against us. They were a team that had nothing to gain except ruining our day by beating us,” the coach said.
Sara Dunmon and Abby Phillips had 16 kills each for Paris. T’Asia Black added 10 kills, Haley Hostetler 9, and Andrea Hurt 7.
Jordan Strickland had 43 assists. Dunmon and Denise Gonzales had 14 digs apiece, while Strickland and Iliana Chakarova each had 9 digs.
Black had one solo block and five block assists, Hostetler had one solo block and two block assists, Dunmon had three block assists, and Phillips had two block assists.
Navarro was the final game of the regular season, and there’s now a two-week wait for the regional tournament.
“We’ll have a Green-and-White intrasquad scrimmage here next week,” Maness said.
The Dragons willl scrimmage Redlands at 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 5 in Paris as a final tune-up for the regional tournament.
Paris has played Redlands twice this season, winning both times. The Dragons won 25-20, 25-21, 25-15 in the NCTC Tournament at Gainesville on Sept. 7, but had to battle back from an 0-2 start on Sept. 19 in El Reno, Okla., before prevailing 23-25, 23-25, 25-19, 25-21, 15-12.
Here’s the schedule for the Region XIV tournament at Tyler Junior College:
FRIDAY, NOV. 8
Game 1 — 9 a.m., North 2 vs. South 3
Game 2 — 11 a.m., South 2 vs. North 3
Game 3 — 1 p.m., South 1 vs. North 4
Game 4 — 3 p.m., North 1 vs. South 4
Game 5 — 5 p.m., Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 1
Game 6 — 7 p.m., Loser Game 2 vs. Loser Game 4
SATURDAY, NOV. 9
Game 7 — 9 a.m., Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 1
Game 8 — 11 a.m., Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 4
Game 9 — 1 p.m., Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 7
Game 10 — 3 p.m., Winner Game 5 vs. Loser Game 8
Game 11 — 5 p.m., Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8
Game 12 — 7 p.m., Winner Game 9 vs. Winner Game 10
SUNDAY, NOV. 10
Game 13 — 1 p.m., Winner Game 12 vs. Loser Game 11
Game 14 — 3 p.m., Winner Game 11 vs. Winner Game 13
Game 15 (if Game 14 Loser has only one loss) — 5 p.m.
By Charles Richards, eParisExtra