Bookended by last weekend's Emporia Tournament and the upcoming first-round sub-state match-up on Saturday, the Lawrence High and Free State High volleyball teams will wrap up the regular season at 6 p.m. today at the FSHS gym.
The meeting will be a best-of-five dual for city bragging rights, the first of its kind since Free State opened its doors 11 years ago. Second-year LHS coach Stephanie Magnuson suggested the showdown shortly after last season, and Free State coach Nancy Hopkins loved the idea instantly.
"It's always a good game, it's right before sub-state and I thought it would be a good warm-up for sub-state," Hopkins said.
Most of the week's focus for both teams had been on tonight's meeting. That changed a bit Wednesday afternoon when the pairings for Saturday's sub-state tournament were released by the Kansas State High School Activities Association.
Free State earned the top seed in one of four Class 6A sub-states and will face No. 8 seed Lawrence High at 2 p.m. on Saturday. The winner will advance to the sub-state championship match, to face the winner of the match between No. 4 Shawnee Mission East (14-20) and No. 5 SM North (13-21). A berth at state will be on the line.
The Lions (7-26) and Firebirds (23-15) have met three times this season, with Free State winning each time. Despite her team's success against the Lions this season, Hopkins said the Firebirds would keep their focus for both matchups in the next 72 hours.
"I keep telling my kids it's hard to beat a team three or four times in the same season," Hopkins said. "Because eventually they could beat you. We have to keep that in the back of our minds because it could always be the time, and with it being Lawrence High, they could be dangerous, whether they're the No. 8 seed or the No. 1 seed."