After winning the 4A-Central conference, Central Arkansas Christian will enter next week’s Class 4A State Volleyball Tournament as the No. 2 seed from the Central after dropping the district championship to Marianna.

CAC (18-6) went 12-2 through the conference round-robin but just 1-1 in the district tournament at Maumelle, beating Batesville Southside in four games in the semifinals and falling to Marianna in the final, 16-14 in the fifth game.

Marianna thus gets the top seed for the state tournament. CAC is No. 2, followed by Batesville Southside and Lonoke.

"The girls took it hard, but it is what it is," coach Cade Smith said of the loss. "We’ve got to get past that, get to practice and try to stay sharp this week. We go to Harding Academy (Thursday), and that will help us get ready. They’re a high-quality team with a chance to win (the Class 3A state title) again."

CAC will open state tournament play at Harrison Parks and Recreation Center (hosted by Berryville) on Tuesday, Oct. 30 at 6 p.m. against Malvern. Marianna will open with Booneville, Batesville Southside against Mena and Lonoke against Waldron.

"There’s not a whole lot of difference in the 1 and 2 seeds," Smith said. "It turned out it may be a little better early on to be No. 2."

At press time, he said he did not know much about Malvern, a No. 3 seed, beyond "they’re really athletic with a couple of good hitters." He was planning to watch the Lady Leopards play their final regular-season match this week.

The Class 4A state final is set for 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3 at Valley View High School.

Smith said his team was in good shape physically heading into the state tournament.

"We’ll try to take it easy this week and try not to do anything to get anybody hurt," he said Monday. "We’ve still got a few things to work on, but you don’t teach a lot of new stuff this time of year.

"We’ll see how they are at practice. I think they’ll be fine. We’re still a week away. If we’re still upset about that loss (by Oct. 30), something is wrong."