Class 1A Division I
Hoxie Indians (34-2)
Coach -- Shelly Hoyt
Notes -- Last season, the Hoxie volleyball team broke through for something the program hadn't seen before. Though being perennially competitive at the state level in Class 2A and Class 1A, the Indians had never made a title match. After upending always-tough Centralia in pool play on Day 1, the Indians reached that elusive title match, only to fall short against the same Central team in the title match.
With virtually everyone back of that time -- including a pair of seniors in Carly Heim and Lexi Schamberger -- Hoxie, ranked No. 3 in the most recent KVA rankings, again seems to be poised for another title run.
The Indians enter state on a 16-match winning streak, having not lost since Sept. 30 in a triangular at Dighton where they suffered a 25-16, 25-18 loss to the host Hornets. The Indians' other loss came Sept. 18 in a quad at Colby, losing again to the host and Class 4A Division II Eagles, 26-24, 25-18.
The season's accomplishments include a Northwest Kansas League Tournament win where the Indians beat Division II qualifier Sharon Springs-Wallace County in the title match, 25-23, 25-20, handling the Wildcats one of only three losses this season.
This group of Indians also has a string of 73 straight basketball games won, and has collected the last three 1A Division I basketball titles. The school has yet to earn a state volleyball title.
Hoxie and Centralia are again in the same pool and will play in the 8:30 p.m. game Friday. Hoxie's first match is against La Crosse (27-11).
La Crosse Leopards (27-11)
Coach -- Mindi Dreiling
Notes -- Before qualifying in Class 1A Division I last season, the Leopards had gone through nine seasons without a qualification, having not made state since 2004. The youthful Leopards experienced a few growing pains in Hays last season.
But now in her third season as head coach, Dreiling has guided the quad to back-to-back state appearances after La Crosse won just five matches in 2012.
The Leopards, now with six seniors on the club and a great deal of talent in the under classes, look for more success at the state level than last season's 0-3 mark in pool play.
Tenth-ranked La Crosse, like last season, was the underdog in its sub-state tournament. The second seed, La Crosse defeated host Jetmore-Hodgeman County in the semifinals, then took out top-seeded and favored Dighton, 25-20, 20-25, 25-15, to advance. Dighton was the state runner-up last season in 1A Division II.
Junior Morgan West and sophomore Oliva Baus are the top two attackers for the Leopards. West has 331 kills this season with Baus having 254. Senior Alyssa Oborny averages five kills per set, and has 147 for the season as well. Baus and West also account for 114 of the team's 144 blocks, while senior Ashley Depperschmidt leads the way in digs with 251.
Class 1A Division II
Logan Trojans (32-6)
Coach -- Robin Van Leays
Notes -- State didn't start well last season for Logan in the 1A Division II field as the Trojans lost their first match in pool play to Argonia. But, the Trojans rallied with back-to-back wins to make it into Saturday's semfiinals, then fell to eventual state champion Baileyville-B&B, then again to Argonia in the third-place match.
Logan, the top seed at last week's sub-state in Almena, stayed true by beating second-seeded Almena-Northern Valley, 25-21, 25-23 in the finals.
The Trojans are led by Kodi Van Laeys' 296 kills with 211 and 218 coming from Chirsten Greving and Kadee Braun, respectively. Van Laeys boasts has a team-best 259 digs, with Greving adding 226. Braun has 84 blocks.
Logan, ranked No. 4 in the most recent KVA rankings, is the second seed behind Sharon Springs-Wallace County. The Trojan again take on Argonia (22-15) again in the first match this season in the 8:30 a.m. slot Friday.
Sylvan-Lucas Mustangs (20-16)
Coach -- Linda Haring
Notes -- With just one senior starter, the Mustangs are one of the younger clubs to enter the field this weekend. Sylvan-Lucas last made state in the school's first year under a new consolidation in 2010. The Mustangs finished 1-2 in pool play that season in Class 1A Division I.
The Mustangs qualified by winning their own sub-state last week, defeating Wilson, 25-23, 26-24 in a close title match. In the semifinals, the Mustangs had to hold off Hutchinson-Central Christian, 25-23, 25-21, in the semifinals.
Junior Courtney Batchman, the team's tallest starter at 5-foot-7, leads the Mustangs' offensive attack, averaging 11 kills per match, along with two aces. Junior Bayleigh Broeckelman leads the way in assists with 10 per match, while sophomore Great Wehrman averages nine assist per match.
The Mustangs take on top-seeded Sharon Springs-Wallace County in their first match at 8:30 a.m. Friday.
Sharon Springs-Wallace County Wildcats (32-3)
Coach -- Paulette Unruh
Notes -- The top-seed and No. 1-ranked team in 1A Division II, the Wildcats rolled through last week's sub-state in Tribune, not allowing more than 14 points in any set. Wallace County disposed of in-county foe Weskan, 25-12, 25-14 in the title match, and is rolling with just three losses - one to Hoxie, one to Stockton, and the other to Class 4A Division II state qualifier Thomas More Prep-Marian.
A close loss to Logan last season in pool play kept the Wildcats from advancing out of pool play. The Wildcats finished 1-2 after starting the tournament with a 28-26, 25-16 win against Attica to open the tournament. Wallace County, though, fell to Logan, 28-26, 25-23, then went on to lose to Argonia, the pool's top team, 25-18, 25-15 to end the Wildcats season.
This season, though, coach Unruh said the team is more mature than the same club last year that graduated two seniors.
Leading the Wildcats' offense, Rachael Kuhlman has 190 kills, although the senior missed the first 14 matches of the season after recovering from foot surgery. Still she has 52 more kills than any other player on the team, and is third on the team with 56 blocks. Sophomore Stephani Noone has 65 blocks to lead the way. Sophomore Cassidy Creigh averages 4.7 assists per game, and Kuhlman averages 3.9.
Wallace County takes on eighth-seeded Sylvan-Lucas (20-16) at 8:30 a.m. Friday.
Wheatland-Grinnell Thunderhawks (28-11)
Coach -- Shannon Foster
Notes -- After taking a one-year break from Gross Memorial Coliseum, the Thunderhawks are back in the 1A Division II field. The last time Wheatland-Grinnell was in Hays in 2012, it finished 2-1 in pool play, then eventually defeated league foe Weskan for third place.
This season, the Thunderhawks enter as the No. 4 seed with a 28-11 mark, after winning the Palco sub-state by beating third-seeded Ingalls in the title match, 25-20, 25-18.
Wheatland High School won six state titles through the 1970s and 80s, while Grinnell had five in the same time frame. The schools have yet to break through for a crown as the Thunderhawks.
The Thunderhawks are ranked No. 5 in Division II, led by 17 kills this season by Allie Ryburn.
Hannah Waldman has 49 blocks, and Tenille Tholen has 417 assists. Monica Stephens has 267 digs, averaging 3.1 per game.