Here are five storylines entering the Kansas high school volleyball state touraments on Friday and Saturday.
1. Will St. James Academy continue the streak?
For the first time in several seasons, there is a question mark and uncertainty on St. James Academy’s bracket.
The Thunder have been virtually unstoppable the past six seasons, winning state championships in two different classifications. Last year, St. James went undefeated and were crowned national champions by PrepVolleyball.com.
This season, the Thunder enter the state tournament with a 36-6 record as the No. 4 seed. On Friday, they will face fifth-seeded Andover Central at 4:30 p.m., eighth-seeded Valley Center at 6:30 and top-seeded Shawnee Heights at 8:30 p.m. at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka.
2. How will Kansas City-area teams shake out in Class 6A?
The first round of competition in the Class 6A volleyball state tournament will bring several local matchups in each of the two pools.
Olathe Northwest is the top seed and the Ravens drew defending champion Olathe East, Blue Valley and Hutchinson in the top bracket. Blue Valley Northwest is the only KC area school in the bottom half.
After a day of pool play, the top two schools from each side of the bracket will advance to the semifinals.
3. Can St. Thomas Aquinas build on its runner-up finish?
St. Thomas Aquinas finished as runner-up in Class 5A a season ago behind St. James Academy, but the Saints have a chance to pass the Thunder this weekend.
The Saints are seeded second with a 37-4 record. They are the top seed in the bottom bracket and will face seventh-seeded Newton at 3:30 p.m. in the first game of pool play at the Kansas Expocentre. They will then play Bishop Carroll at 5:30 and Topeka-Seaman at 8:30.
Aquinas also recently took over the top spot in the Kansas Volleyball Association rankings, as St. James Academy dropped from first to third place behind Shawnee Heights.
4. Can Bishop Miege make it back to the top of Class 4A?
Bihsop Miege is the Class 4A Division 1 defending state champions, but the Stags have a long road ahead if they hope to repeat.
Despite being the KVA’s top-ranked team, Miege they will head to the Bicentennial Center in Salina as the No. 5 seed with a 31-9 record. They will start Pool I play against Topeka Hayden at 4:30 p.m., Chanute at 5:30 and Rose Hill at 7:30.
Louisburg, who Miege defeated in the championship game last year, is the seventh seed with a 28-11 record.
5. Will Olathe Northwest go all the way?
Olathe Northwest has a 35-4 record and is currently ranked first in the state by the Kansas Volleyball Association.
However, the Ravens will have to go through an experienced Olathe East squad that returns its entire state championship winning team. The Hawks are seeded fourth with a 31-8 record.
Olathe Northwest will face eighth-seeded Hutchinson at 8:30 a.m., Blue Valley at 10:30 and Olathe East at 1:30 p.m. at the Kansas Expocentre.