INDEPENDENCE — It has been another magical season in the Independence volleyball program. Now the Lady Bulldogs hope the third time is the charm in their pursuit of a state championship.

After claiming a third consecutive sub-state championship, IHS will make a return trip to the Class 4A State Tournament. At 37-2 overall, the Lady Bulldogs have earned the No. 1 overall seed in the event, which gets underway on Friday with pool play at the Hutchinson Sports Arena in Hutchinson.

Independence has been placed in Pool I, which will include #4 seed Rose Hill (31-6), #5 Louisburg (32-8) and #8 Topeka-Hayden (21-17).

With 37 victories this season, the Lady Bulldogs have already matched their school record for wins in a season that they hit just one year ago. That squad went on to win two of three matches in pool play at the state tournament in Salina but missed out on semifinal action due to the tiebreaker.

IHS advanced to state after capturing the championship of the Independence Sub-State Tournament on Saturday. In that tournament, the Lady Bulldogs swept Kansas City-Piper (25-16, 25-16) in the semifinals before taking down Ottawa in straight sets (25-22, 25-13) in the championship match.

Kristi Speicher is in her 34th season as Lady Bulldog coach, compiling nearly 600 victories during her tenure. She has directed Independence to six straight 20-plus win seasons, including back-to-back 30-win campaigns. This will be IHS’ eighth trip to state under Speicher.


CHANUTE — The Southeast Kansas League will actually be represented with the top two seeds at state. In addition to Independence, Chanute will compete in Hutchinson as the No. 2 overall seed with a 33-6 overall record.

The Lady Comets have been placed in Pool II, joining #3 seed Andale (32-6), #6 Wichita Trinity (22-15) and #7 Bishop Miege (21-16).

Chanute also advanced to state by winning the sub-state tournament on its home floor. CHS had a battle on its hands in the semifinals before earning a 32-30, 25-22 victory over Paola. It finished things off by sweeping its way past Labette County in the title match, 25-17, 25-16.

This will be the Blue Comets’ sixth trip to state volleyball in the past eight years. They are under the direction of head coach Jory Murry.