CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When the West Virginia High School volleyball State Tournament begins this morning, three Kanawha County schools will be vying for championships in each of the three classifications.
In Class AAA, Capital (32-14-6) makes its first trip to the tournament since a runner-up finish in 2005.
The Cougars will face last season's runner-up Musselman this morning at the conclusion of an 8:30 a.m. matchup between Parkersburg and Cabell Midland.
"We're ecstatic and super excited," Capital Coach Carolyn Taylor said.
"At the beginning of the year I made a comment about how I felt this was the year for us to make it back to states. I still feel very strong about this team and how we compete and play. I feel that this team can beat any team in the state."
The Cougars have experienced good and bad this season and Taylor believes the team will benefit from them.
"We've had a few ups and downs this season, but we've learned from it. The girls work hard and if they all play together, they can be the top team in the state with their talent," she said. "I just hope when they step on the big stage they play well."
Seniors Tahje Houston and Paige Lucas lead the Cougars, along with junior Jill Kinder and sophomore Jayna Hurst.
Taylor likes that the two teams are not at all familiar with one another.
"I've done research to find everything I can about them," Taylor said of Musselman. "They're the only (State Tournament) team we haven't seen this year, but they haven't seen us either.
"They are a strong team and they've beaten some of the top teams, but what I'm excited about is that the girls are going in blazing. There's no intimidation because they haven't beaten us and there's no cockiness because we haven't beaten them."
HERBERT HOOVER (31-18-3) will represent Kanawha County in Class AA for the third consecutive season.
The Huskies have been ousted in the opening round the last two seasons, but relish the opportunity to square off against two-time state runner-up Ritchie County in the first round. The two teams will play at 1:30 p.m. today.
Hoover increased its schedule strength this season in an effort to get over the first round tournament hump.
"We wanted to give our kids an opportunity to see the caliber teams that we see at the end of the season in the State Tournament," Hoover Coach Anita King said.
The Huskies played a handful of traditional state powers this season including Oak Glen, Philip Barbour, Frankfort, Independence, Robert C. Byrd, Hedgesville, Capital, Princeton, Beckley, George Washington and Spring Valley.