THS to hold potent invitational
Fans might get sneak previews of state teams Saturday in Tonganoxie.
With 12 volleyball teams from classes 6A, 5A and 4A competing in the Tonganoxie Invitational, four of the squads were state teams last season.
Manhattan and Olathe East (6A) and Great Bend and Bonner Springs (5A) all advanced to their respective state tournaments. Underdog Bonner Springs sneaked into the tournament with a losing record.
"It's one of the high-competition tournaments in the state," assistant coach Brandon Parker said.
Parker ranked the Tonganoxie tournament in the neighborhood of the annual Lawrence and St. Thomas Aquinas (Overland Park) tournaments.
Another 5A school, perennial power Gardner-Edgerton, again will be at the tournament, while a cluster of 4A schools complete the field.
Although Great Bend and Manhattan will rack up some mileage with long bus rides, the 4A schools will be quite close. Kaw Valley League members Basehor-Linwood, Perry-Lecompton, Piper and De Soto will join Tonganoxie and Bonner Springs, while Ottawa, Eudora and Bishop Ward also will be in the tournament.
Tonganoxie and Bishop Ward have become quite familiar the past two seasons. The Chieftains have defeated the Cyclones in substate semifinals the last two seasons before then losing to Lansing in the finals both years.
Coach Tiffany Parker said the large schools could be the big obstacles this season.
"Great Bend is always good," Parker said. "Manhattan is very good. Olathe East is really good."
Parker said Olathe East's Lindsay Gray will be a player to watch this year's invitational.
The tournament begins at 8 a.m. Saturday with pool play. Bracket play should start in the early afternoon, while the finals should take place sometime around 7 p.m.