The NJCAA Division I Region VI Volleyball Tournament begins this weekend, Nov. 11-12 at the Hutchinson Salthawk High School Activities Center in Hutchinson, Kan. The Seward County Community College (21-23) volleyball team is the No. 3 seed and will play No. 2 seeded Colby Community College (25-17) in the second round of the four-team tournament on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. Two-time defending Jayhawk West and Region VI Champion, Hutchinson Lady Blue Dragons (19-13) are the No. 1 seed. Hutchinson is awaiting the winner of No. 5 Garden City vs. No. 4 Cloud County tonight, to see who they will open the tournament against at noon on Saturday.

Hutchinson is the host team and is the team to beat entering the tournament with a combined game record against all five teams in the D-I Region VI of 12-1. The only single-game loss came against Colby last week when the Lady Blue Dragons capped off their third straight Jayhawk West Conference championship and third straight season going 8-0 in conference competition. Hutchinson has spent all nine weeks of the regular season ranked in the Top 15 of the nation, with their lowest ranking coming at No. 15 and their peak position at No. 2. Hutchinson is led by sophomore First Team All-Conference and All-Region VI middle blocker, Brandi Hood, and 2006 Jayhawk West Conference Freshman of the Year and First Team All-Conference middle blocker, Ludmila Amaral.

Colby has played up-and-down this season with a five-game losing streak to open the season, but rode a seven-game winning streak into their final regular season match against Hutchinson. Colby has victories over Cloud County (3-1), Garden City (3-1) and Seward County (3-2) with only one division loss to Hutchinson (1-3). Colby’s sophomore outside hitter, Ana Kokanovic was named 2006 Jayhawk West Conference Player of the Year and NJCAA Region VI Player of the Year. Kokanovic currently leads the nation in kills with 5.98 kills per game. This year could mark the second consecutive season that Kokanovic has led the nation in kills after she led the country during her freshman season with 5.32 kills per game.

The Lady Saints schedule has proven to be one-of-the-toughest schedules in the nation this season. Seward County has taken on 13 opponents who have been ranked in the NJCAA Top 20. Entering the Region VI Tournament the Lady Saints have won six straight matches, their longest winning streak of the season. Throughout 2006, the Lady Saints have broken statistical records that have been in place for several years by former NJCAA All-Americans. The SCCC line-up has improved throughout the season with a foundation of only two returning sophomores and four freshmen maturing before the eyes of second year head coach Bert Luallen.

The Lady Saints have been led by Janete Ferreira (599 kills/all-time single-season record), Juliana Nascimento (366 kills and 66 aces), Katy Troutman (702 digs/all-time single-season record) and Alex Droogsma (1,608 assists/second all-time single-season). All four players were named Jayhawk West All-Conference and NJCCA All-Region VI.

Wednesday night, Garden City will travel to Cloud County to play in the NJCAA Region VI First Round Play-In-Match. The winner will play Hutchinson in the second round with the loser being eliminated from the post-season. In head-to-head action this season, Cloud County defeated Garden City 30-19, 30-18 and 30-18 in Concordia.