For one more match, Mansfield’s Kaylie Pyles and Mallory Ward will be teammates.
Pyles and Ward are on the West team in the annual Arkansas High School Coaches Association All-Star volleyball match in Conway.
"It feels awesome to be able to have the chance to play one last game with my close teammate," Pyles said. "Our competitiveness pushed us each to be better and we became great friends throughout sports."
The two Lady Tigers were instrumental in Mansfield’s run of back-to-back 3A state championships their junior and senior seasons. Pyles was also selected the MVP of the state championship match each of the past two seasons.
Like Pyles, Ward said she is relishing the opportunity to get to play with her teammate one final time.
"I am glad we both got chosen to play in the All-Star volleyball game because I have played with her since seventh grade and we are good friends," Ward said. "It will be a great experience to have with a good friend and a chance to play together one last time. I am going to miss her since we are both headed to different colleges. We have been friends since elementary and have always grown up together playing sports."
The teammates were also motivated to get Mansfield a state championship after losing in the title match as sophomores.
"After getting runner-up the first year, we won the next two and created school history and made lifetime memories and friends along the way," Pyles said.
Today’s match will be bit bittersweet for both, though, as they will be moving on to different colleges. Pyles will be playing volleyball at Henderson State University. Ward will attend UAFS, but will not play volleyball.
"This All-Star game will be a neat experience to share with Kaylie, yet sad because it will be our last time to ever play volleyball together," Ward said.
Ward and Pyles aren’t the only set of teammates who will be on the court for today’s match.
Also on the West team, Mena teammates Natalie Rose and Maegan Kent are planning to compete, while Northside teammates Nicole Knight and Devyn Chronister will be on the East squad. Greenwood’s Maddie Gilliam is playing for the East as well.
Six locals will be played in the All-Star Soccer matches at the University of Central Arkansas.
Sam Iraburo of Northside will team with Greenwood’s Elijah Hayden and Baylee Moore on the East boys’ squad. Sarah Henson of Southside and Hayley Jales of Greenwood will be on the girls’ East side while Mena’s Meagan Boyd is on the West roster.