Here we go again.
Lawrence High and Free State High's volleyball teams will square off tonight for the first time since meeting in their Class 6A sub-state championship last fall.
The Firebirds, currently ranked No. 3 in Class 6A, defeated the Lions 4-15, 15-7, 15-6 for their first state tournament berth ever. It also was the first time LHS didn't go to state since 1971.
Neither Free State (16-5), nor LHS (7-7) feels the sub-state showdown will be a motivational factor tonight.
"We have so many rivals, we really do, so it's not a revenge thing," LHS coach Jo Huntsinger said. "It's a big enough rivalry already without adding that kind thing. You guys (the media) make it sound like this will make or break our season and it won't."
The quadrangular at the FSHS gym, which is the Firebirds' home opener, also will feature Blue Valley and Shawnee Mission North. The LHS-Free State match will begin approximately 8 p.m.
"Obviously we're glad to be playing at home for a change," FSHS coach Nancy Hopkins said. "This is the first of two home matches for us. Obviously Lawrence High is a big game for us, but we're not looking past the other two either."
Free State has come to realize that being ranked is motivation enough for its opponents.
"It seems like everybody is out for us," Hopkins said. "I guess when you're ranked that's always the case."
The Firebirds, who lead the all-time series 2-1, also knocked off the Lions last year in the regular-season meeting, 11-15, 15-4, 15-7 at LHS.
Lawrence High pounded Free State two years ago, 15-4, 15-0, in the first varsity clash between the two schools.
"It is a fun high school event," Huntsinger said. "There will be a bunch of people there. If we win (tonight) our season is not over and if we lose (tonight) our season is not over. It's the same with Free State."
Tonight marks the first head-to-head meeting at the FSHS gym.
"We used to compare ourselves to other people in the state, not to the school across the street. Now people only want to compare the two schools," Huntsinger said. "But, it'll be an awesome, awesome high school event. I'm looking forward to that aspect, but as far as making or breaking our season ... we still have a lot of season left after (today)."
-- Robert Sinclair's phone message number is 832-7185. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.