Who: The Class 4A Volleyball State Tournament
When: Nov. 1-2.
Where: Hutchinson Sports Arena — Hutchinson, Kansas
The Circle Thunderbirds are heading to the state tournament for the first time since 2011 and they're ready to make some noise. They'll be the three seed in a field that's loaded with double digit loss teams. Do not let that fool you into thinking this is an easy field. It's set up with competitive teams but the odds look good for Circle.
Circle found themselves on the other side of the bracket over tournament favorite Andale. That's the best situation you could have hoped for. Andale at 35-2 is the favorite. They have two losses: Bishop Carroll in a three-set thriller and Garden Plain. Neither which are going to be here to give Andale any trouble.
Andale is 2-0 against the field, with wins over Circle and Nickerson.
The Thunderbirds are winners of 25 of their last 26. Outside of the blip at El Dorado, their last neutral site loss came to McPherson back on Sept. 24.
Circle will start their state schedule at 3:30 p.m. at the Sports Arena in Hutch against sixth-seeded, Eudora (26-13), who's been in and out of the rankings all season long. They're one of five teams that have double-digit loss counts.
Next, In what world is Topeka Hayden a seventh seed? That's what Circle will have to deal with at 5:30 p.m. They've been the No. 2 ranked team all season long and now will have to play the "underdog" role at state. While the teams know better than to underestimate Hayden, the fans should not. They are 25-14 overall but the league they had to come through is why they have the second most losses in the field.
They'll wrap up by playing second seed, Independence (35-3). The Bulldogs haven't played anyone in the state field but tied for the most wins is nothing to laugh at. They'll put up a fight.
We've stated the reasons above why Andale is the favorite. They don't play a lot of three set matches and know how to put teams away when it counts. Something in the water in Andale breeds athletes and that's no different in volleyball.
Yeah, that will be Eurdora. While the Cardinals are here for a reason, beating Paola and Chanute to get here, they'll have a tough time with one of the toughest pools in all classes of state volleyball.
Dark horse: Hayden
I don't like to do this, especially with their history of state championships but here we are. Hayden won three straight state titles in 4A-II before dropping to a third place finish when 4A consolidated. They've played a tough schedule and that's why their 14 losses have them the seventh seed. It will not be a shock to anyone if they win this whole thing.