Henry Clay will have the home court and history on its side in the 11th Region volleyball tournament this week.
The Blue Devils, No. 6 in the state, are defending region champs. They've reached the region finals 11 of the past 13 years and won six times.
Coach Dale Grupe's team is led by All-State setter Jordan Strickland, senior outside hitter Emily Stromberg and senior middle blocker Nicole Jenkins.
Henry Clay prepped for the playoffs with a demanding schedule. It lost to state powers Mercy, Manual and St. Henry in the last two weeks of the regular season but benefited from the competition.
"They showed us our weaknesses and what we needed to improve on," Strickland said. "Those games gave us heart, too. We don't like to lose, and we don't want it to happen anymore."
"Even thought we lost, we learned how to play even when the chips are down," he said. "I was proud of the girls' attitude. Even when we were down against Mercy, we kept plugging along."
If the region plays out according to form, Henry Clay will have a rematch with 43rd District runner-up Lafayette in Thursday's finals.
Lafayette, rated 16th in the state, last won the region in 2006. The Generals face 44th District winner Bryan Station Monday night.
The Defenders haven't beaten Lafayette since 2003.
Woodford County, which plays Lexington Christian Tuesday night, is the last non-Lexington team to win the region. The Yellowjackets were region champs in 2004.