"We came on strong late last year and I think we surprised a few people," King said. "This year, with so many starters returning, we started the season out with high expectations. We had some dates on our schedule that were intentionally designed to challenge us a bit so we could get used to the caliber of teams we will see at the state tournament.
"I feel like we match up pretty well, and if we come out and play our game like I've seen them do, I feel like we can compete with anybody."
While the Huskies will avoid opening up with Oak Glen this time, they will face a very stiff test right off the bat against Philip Barbour. The Colts have strung together 11-straight state tournament berths and advanced to the semifinals last year.
"I know they have a great record and are from a great conference," King said. "They have a strong hitter in [Nikki] Shriver, their defense is extremely solid, and they pick up a lot of balls that you would expect to be a point on most teams. I told our girls we won't be doing any premature celebrations in this match. They're not physically imposing, but they are solid all around."
The Huskies will live and die with their aggressive serving led by King's daughters Ashton and Hannah.
Ashton, a freshman, has 119 aces, which leads the state among maxpreps.com players. Hannah, a junior and returning second-team all-state selection, has 100, good enough for third.
"We have an aggressive approach to serving," Anita King said. "[The Colts] don't consistently face jump servers, so we have to make sure we hit our spots."
PikeView, Ritchie County, James Monroe, Nicholas County and Frankfort complete the Class AA field.
Finally, if you're looking for an underdog to root for, look no further than the Class A field.
That's where you'll find Sherman, a small school in Boone County that has little-to-no tradition in the volleyball state tournament.
In fact, volleyball isn't even offered as a sport at Sherman Junior High, and most of the Tide's players didn't start playing competitively until their freshman season.
Like any Cinderella, the odds will be against Sherman when it opens play at 1:30 p.m. against Magnolia.
On the other hand, Class A is also the only class in which the defending state champion (Wirt County) is not back to defend its crown. Wirt and Charleston Catholic have combined to win seven Class A titles, but neither one will be playing this weekend.
To find the last champion still in the field, you would need to go back to 2004 and Williamstown.
Joining the Yellowjackets, Tide, and Blue Eagles will be Tyler Consolidated, Fayetteville, Parkersburg Catholic, East Hardy and Pendleton County.
Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, ryan.pr...@wvgazette.com, or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt.