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Paris Junior College’s Andrea Hurt (1) and T’Asia Black (12) repel a kill attempt by Tyler’s Apache Ladies during a decisive second-set win (25-16) in the second set of a match won by Tyler 25-23, 16-25, 25-15, 25-21 at the Hunt Center on Wednesday. (eParisExtra.com photo by Charles Richards)
By CHARLES RICHARDS
Paris Junior College lost a tough four-set volleyball match Wednesday to nationally No. 7-ranked Tyler Junior College, succumbing 23-25, 25-16, 15-25, 21-25.
The Lady Dragons fell to 18-7 overall and 3-2 in Region 14. Tyler’s Apache Ladies improved to 18-2 and 5-0.
PJC coach Justin Maness had hoped his No. 17-ranked team could avenge a four-set loss a month earlier in Tyler, and for awhile it looked like it could happen.
The Lady Dragons jumped out in the first set to leads of 4-1, 8-5, 10-6, and 14-9. But Tyler coach Ronda Shirley called time out, and her team responded by winning the next five points to tie the set, then took the lead for the first time at 19-18.
The lead seesawed back and forth, with ties at 18-18, 19-19, 20-20, 21-21, 22-22 and 23-23 before Tyler pulled out a 25-23 victory.
“We had three or four service errors in the first set, and that’s big in a close game like that. If we can get those back, it might have gone another way, but that’s just the way it went,” Maness said.
PJC bounced back to win the second set, jumping out to leads of 5-1, 8-3 , 11-4 and 17-8. Tyler got as close as 15-12 before the Lady Dragons won six of the next seven points for a 21-13 advantage.
The partisan home crowd, led by student athletes from several sports, raised the noise level at the Hunt Center and PJC coasted to an easy 25-16 victory that tied the match at one set apiece.
“We had a chance to win Set 1, and we came out and won Set 2 big, but I think maybe we got a little satisfied with that win. Sometimes, the worst thing you can do in volleyball is to win big in a set, because it’s so hard to come back with that same intensity, because that other team is not going to come back and play like that. They’re going to re-set,” Maness said.
“I told my players in the huddle between sets 2 and 3, ‘You can’t get complacent.’ That team was ranked No. 1 in the nation earlier this season, and against a team like that you have to always push. We kind of sat back instead of playing like we should have,” he said.
Tyler won the third set easily, 25-15, and threatened to blow PJC away in the fourth set, leading 19-11 and 21-14 before the Lady Dragons got back into the match by winning six straight points.
The Apache Ladies won the next three points and four of the last five for a 25-21 win in the fourth set that closed out the match.
“We were all but dead, but we came back, and that’s something we’ve done throughout the season. You think we’re out of it, and then we show up again,” Maness said.
Despite the loss, Maness was able to take some good things out of the match-up.
“We had some mental lapses at the wrong time, but I think they’re a beatable team,” Maness said. “In Set 2, we showed we can play with them and beat them, most definitely.
PJC’s Katie Poole had 11 kills, Abby Phillips 9 kills and Katie Clapp 8 kills.
Maness singled out Phillips for praise.
But late in the match the Lady Dragons found the points harder and harder to come by.
Kill shots that PJC is accustomed to winning were kept in play by great defensive stops by Tyler. Several points went through long volleys, with sensational saves by both teams that won oohs and aahs from the crowd.
“I’m not discrediting Tyler. They played great. They defensively got in a groove and started picking up a lot of shots that we’re used to putting down.,” Maness said.
“That’s one thing we have to get used to, that just because we hit it hard doesn’[t mean we’re going to put it down each time. Mentally, I thought it sometimes got to us when the other team picked up a hard-driven ball.”
Karina Garcia had 23 digs for Paris, Poole had 19 digs, and Clapp had 12 digs.
Jordan Strickland and Lauren Hamaker spent the afternoon setting up teammates with passes at the net for kill shots that unfortunately for PJC didn’t increasingly were being kept alive on the other side, prolonging the point. Strickland had 17 assists and Hamaker 15.
Paris registered several blocks at the net itself. Phillips had one solo block and two assists, T’asia Black had one block and one block assist to go with 4 kills, and Andrea Hurt had one block and one block assist to go with 3 kills. Kariana Castanon-Hill had 2 kills.
PJC is still sitting well in Region 14, which has two 5-team zones that will send the four teams with the best records to the post-season conference tournament on Nov. 1-4 on the campus of Lee College in Baytown.
Going into Wednesday’s play, Tyler was 4-0, Paris 3-1, and Panola, Trinity Valley and Navarro were 1-3.
The No. 1 seed n each zone will play the No. 4 seed in the other zone, and the No. 2 seeds in each zone will play the No. 3 seeds in the other zone.
In the South zone, San Jacinto (22-1) is ranked No. 1 nationally, and Blinn (15-4) is ranked No. 12.