As coach Nancy Dorsey prepares to play host to the fifth annual Time Warner Cable Volleyball Slam at St. James Academy, she cannnot hide her excitement about the depth and talent that will be showcased on Saturday.
The daylong tournament will begin at 8 a.m., with eight games scheduled. Gardner Edgerton and Blue Springs South will start the action and St. James will face Olathe Northwest in the nightcap, scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m.
“It’s always exciting to start out the season with the Slam because there is a lot of hype with big crowds, and the TV cameras are there,” Dorsey said. “It is such a cool opportunity for the kids and for their talents to be showcased.”
Dorsey’s St. James squad went 46-0 last year on the way to the Kansas Class 5A state title. It was the program’s sixth consecutive state title. The Thunder enter the season ranked No. 1 in the CBS MaxPreps Volleyball poll.
In addition to St. James, the Slam also features another state championship team in Olathe East. The Hawks went 38-5 and won the Kansas Class 6A state title. They are ranked 20th in the MaxPreps poll. The Class 5A state runner-up, St. Thomas Aquinas, is also in the Volleyball Slam.
“Every year that we’ve done the Slam we’ve expanded,” Dorsey said. “The first year we started with just two matches and now there are eight, so it is really exciting and all the teams that are coming are super excited to be there.”
Tickets are available at the door for either a single game or the entire day. The event will also be televised on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel.
Volleyball Slam Schedule
(Starting time listed first, followed by delayed televised times in parentheses)
8 a.m.: Blue Springs South vs Gardner Edgerton (1 p.m.)
9:30 a.m.: St Pius X vs O’Hara (2:30 p.m.)
11 a.m.: Washburn Rural vs Blue Valley North (4 p.m.)
12:30 p.m.: St. Teresa’s Academy vs Blue Valley Northwest (5:30 p.m.)
2 p.m.: Lee’s Summit West vs Blue Valley West (7 p.m.)
3:30 p.m.: Blue Springs vs St. Thomas Aquinas (8:30 p.m.)
5 p.m.: Blue Valley vs Olathe East (10 p.m.)
6:30 p.m.: Olathe Northwest vs St. James Academy (11:30 p.m.)
EKL soccer dominance
The Eastern Kansas League proved last season that it was the toughest in the state by sweeping the boys soccer state championships. As another season starts this week, the EKL will look to repeat that feat.
Blue Valley Northwest went 17-3-1 last year, which included a 7-0-0 record in the EKL on its way to winning the Kansas Class 6A state tournament. The Huskies return EKL goalie of the year Sam Glass, who recorded eight shutouts in 12 games with a .40 goals against average.
Aquinas finished second in the league last season with a 4-3-0 record, but went on to win the Class 5A state tournament and wound up 13-6-2 overall. The Saints’ top returner is defender Matthew Holland.
Miege got pushed around during league play, but bounced back to win the Class 4-1A state tournament to complete the sweep. The Stags return EKL defensive player of the year Brandon Ramirez.
Aquinas fifth in cross country poll
The St. Thomas Aquinas girls cross country team, defending state champion in Kansas Class 5A, is ranked fifth in the DyeStat Heartland Region Preseason XC poll.
The Saints will start their season by playing host to the Greg Wilson Classic on Sept. 6.