By RICK PETERSON
Nine-time state volleyball champion Silver Lake is back in the Class 3A state tournament field after a three-year absence.
Sarah Johnson's Eagles, the No. 2 seed in Saturday's St. Marys sub-state, punched their ticket to Friday and Saturday's state tourney at the Hutchinson Sports Arena with a hard-earned 25-16, 21-25, 26-24 win over No. 1 seed Rossville in the sub-state final.
The Eagles, 28-11 on the season, opened their sub-state bid with a 20-25, 25-4, 25-13 quarterfinal win over Sabetha and knocked off Royal Valley in the semifinals, 25-23, 28-26.
Silver Lake and Rossville hooked up for the fifth time this season in the championship match, with four of those matches going to three sets.
Silver Lake, which won its most recent state title in 2018, is the No. 6 seed for the 3A tournament and will open the state tournament with an 8:30 a.m. Pool II match Friday against No. 3 seed Cheney (35-4).
The Eagles will also face No. 2 seed Neodesha (36-3) at 11:30 a.m. and No. 7 Riverton (25-10) at 12:30 p.m. in pool play.
On the other side of the 3A bracket are No. 1 Beloit (37-2), No. 4 Heritage Christian (34-4), No. 5 Smoky Valley (29-11) and No. 8 Goodland (23-15).
The top two finishers in both pools will advance to 9 a.m. semifinals on Saturday, followed by the championship and third-place matches.
Quarterfinals -- Rossville def. Atchison County, 25-14, 25-6; St. Marys def. Jefferson West, 25-21, 25-17; Silver Lake def. Sabatha, 20-25, 25-4, 25-13; Royal Valley def. Hiawatha, 25-18, 25-18.
Semifinals -- Rossville def. St. Marys, 25-13, 25-21; Silver Lake def. Royal Valley, 25-23, 28-26.
Championship -- Silver Lake def. Rossville, 25-16, 21-25, 26-24.