Qualifying for the Class 4A state volleyball tournament never gets old for Eudora High.
The inability to make it to Saturday's semifinal round certainly has, however.
After Friday exits each of the last two postseasons, the Cardinals (37-5) will look to take the next step today when they open pool play as the No. 4 seed in this year's eight-team field.
First up is a 9:30 a.m. match against Frontier League foe Paola (34-5), the No. 5 seed, at the Bicentennial Center in Salina. Eudora will also square off against top-seeded Towanda-Circle (39-1) and eighth-seeded Holton (26-6), with the top two teams from round-robin play advancing to the state final four one day later.
"Hopefully, we can make more of an impact (today)," said Eudora coach Jill Stutler, whose squad didn't advance despite a 2-1 record two seasons ago before faltering to a 1-2 mark in last fall's opening round.
4A state volleyball
Class 4A State Tournament at Salina Friday's schedule
Court A 8:30 a.m. - Towanda-Circle (39-1) vs. Holton (26-6) 9:30 a.m. - Eudora (37-5) vs. Paola (34-5) 10:30 a.m. - Circle vs. Paola 11:30 a.m. - Eudora vs. Holton 12:30 p.m. - Circle vs. Eudora 1:30 p.m. - Paola vs. Holton
Court B 8:30 a.m. - Augusta (36-3) vs. Colby (26-6) 9:30 a.m. - Topeka Hayden (36-4) vs. Girard (26-6) 10:30 a.m. - Augusta vs. Girard 11:30 a.m. - Hayden vs. Colby 12:30 p.m. - Augusta vs. Hayden 1:30 p.m. - Girard vs. Colby
NOTE: Top two teams from each bracket advance to Saturday's 10 a.m. semifinals, followed by consolation and championship matches.
"Our basic thing is just trying to improve in some of our weaknesses so that we don't show any (today)."
With the Eudora offense in the capable hands of senior middle blcoker Erin Kracl - last season's Journal-World All-Area Player of the Year - and junior outside hitter Nikki Snider, Stutler's primary area of concern is on defense. She feels the Cardinals must commit to better ball control and blocking than they've shown at some points during the 2006 season.
Another key factor is taking care of business in today's opening match. Paola beat the Cardinals in three games on Eudora's Senior Night, and Stutler wants to avoid a repeat and the possible emotional baggage and pressure that could settle in should her squad find itself in an early hole after the opening pool-play rotation.
"You always want to get off to a fast start. When you can start your state tournament 1-0, that's a huge confidence builder," Stutler said. "Whatever happens, we've just got to come out ready to fight in any match that we play."