One of the few banners missing in the Roundhouse is for a state volleyball championship.

But McPherson High could have its best chance ever for a title when it competes in the Class 4A State Tournament that gets under way Friday at Salina’s Bicentennial Center.

MHS has a pair of second-place 5A finishes, but this is its first foray into the 4A waters.

The Bullpups take a school-record 40 victories into the tournament, with their only losses to 5A state qualifiers Newton and Valley Center. However, that glossy record has only earned them the No. 2 seed, as Lenexa-St. James Academy is 40-1 and nationally ranked.

“The report is they don't make mistakes, they pass flat, fast and accurate,” said MHS coach Christy Doile, who last year led the Bullpups to the 5A event before being eliminated on the first day. “They have strong tradition. They have a balanced and productive offense, making it harder to defend.”

MHS, though, must first get through pool play with matches against Circle, Rose Hill and Holton. The top two teams from each pool advance to Saturday’s 2 p.m. semifinals.

“Circle has tradition at the 4A state tournament and a great coach that is responsible for the tradition,” Doile said. “They will be shorter than us. They serve very tough, making it hard to get your offense going on that first ball. They are very scrappy and will keep the ball in play, waiting for us to make a mistake.”

Doile already has a full scouting report on Rose Hill, since the teams are familiar with each other.

“Rose Hill, we have beaten twice,” Doile said. “To beat them for the third time, it will most likely the toughest match of the three meetings. They have a big outside, that receives and hits very well. They have a very talented libero and setter. They have great team chemistry and they never give up.”

Holton is kind of the unknown, a 39-3 team that obviously knows how to win.

“Holton is a very athletic team,” Doile said. “Their go-to player is a leaping outside hitter that scores them points. All reports are we have to stop her in the front row and break her serve.”

Doile has a strong and deep team. She’ll send out Sophie Simon, Bethany Farres, Briana Pontious, Paige Regnier, Moira Pyle and Katelyn Loecker, with Tashley Snyder the libero. Kelcie Scott, Abby Pedersen and Sydney McClendon are in the rotation, while Amy Mulch and Alisa Becker also could see some time given there will be three matches played Friday. 

CLASS?4A STATE?PAIRINGS

COURT A
Seed 1: Lenexa-St. James Academy, 40-1
Seed 8: Ottawa, 28-14
Seed 4: Chanute, 34-3
Seed 5: Cheney, 35-4
3:30: Lenexa-St. James Academy vs. Ottawa
4:30: Chanute vs. Cheney
5:30: Lenexa-St. James Academy vs. Cheney
6:30: Chanute vs. Ottawa
7:30: Cheney vs. Ottawa
8:30: Lenexa-St. James Academy vs. Chanute

COURT B
Seed 2: McPherson, 40-2
Seed 7:-Circle, 31-11
Seed 3: Holton, 39-3
Seed 6: Rose Hill, 34-6
3:30: McPherson vs. Circle
4:30: Holton vs. Rose Hill
5:30: McPherson vs. Rose Hill
6:30: Holton vs. Circle
7:30: Rose Hill vs. Circle
8:30: McPherson vs. Holton