More volleyball meetings are set at CHSAA on Tuesday to determine the future layout of post-season formats in all classes. There is plenty of talk and we believe enough support to move away from the current four-team pool state tournament format to a 12-team double elimination bracket tournament. Under the tournament design, the top four seeds would earn first round byes.
With this move, the tournament could also expand from a two to three-day event at the Denver Coliseum. And that has both positive and negative impacts. The positive is the elimination of tiebreaker matches and each match played would be important. With pool play, many of the matches on Saturday morning are meaningless as both teams have already been eliminated from the semifinals.
Cost is the main negative as schools outside the Denver area would have another day of travel, meals and hotel stays. And there would be another day of missing classes for those farthest away.
We also have some thoughts on the post-season format to decide which teams advance to the state tournament. As you know, the current system has the top 36 teams in the RPI qualifying for regional tournaments in 3A-4A-5A. And those teams are then seeded based on RPI into 12-team regionals with the winner qualifying for the state tournament.
Colorado Preps likes the format but would like to see a few tweaks in the system and the ideas stem from the current football setup which we like quite a bit. In that scenario, league champions are rewarded for winning as they can host first round games by also finishing in the RPI Top 16. That’s not the case in volleyball as RPI is strictly used to seed the regional brackets. We would like to see league champions rewarded for winning by getting the chance to host a regional if they end up in the top 16.
With the current system, the 4A and 5A brackets would have looked very similar as league champions all earned the right to host except for Rangeview (East Metro). And if our proposal was in place, the Raiders would not host since they did not finish in the top 16.
But there would be changes in the 3A bracket as Buena Vista, Middle Park and Eagle Ridge Academy would have all moved up into the top 12. Each were league champions but did not finish in the top 12 and thus were forced to play away from home. With our proposal, all three would have moved up and played at home as the 10th, 11th and 12th seeds; bumping Bennett, Lamar and Machebeuf to spots 13-14-15.
For Classes 1A and 2A, we tossed out an idea last month where district champions were also rewarded for winning by earning the chance to host a district tournament. Those eight teams would be seeded 1-8 based on RPI. And RPI would again be used to seed teams 9-24 in the bracket. Travel is the biggest issue with this format as teams would possibly be shipped outside their normal regional tournament area.
This idea could be expanded even further with the elimination of district tournaments. Again, following football, league champions would be rewarded with a top eight seed if they finish in the top 16. RPI could then be used to fill out the remaining regional tournament spots and the teams seeded by the same numbers.
Eliminating district tournaments could then allow 1A/2A teams to schedule up to 22 games in the regular season or they could opt to play regular season ending tournaments in the final week like we often see in the largest three classes. This could be better for the fans than watching a contest featuring the league champion against a last-place team in the early rounds of districts.
Another wrinkle presented to Colorado Preps involves a tweaking of the RPI system. Under the current format, all games played count toward a team’s RPI. That of course sounds fair but it could eventually impact scheduling as teams with successful programs won’t schedule opponents that struggle or have trouble winning games as it could drop them in the RPI. We’ve already seen some of that in other sports such as soccer or basketball and in many cases, 1A/2A leagues have re-tooled their district formats to prevent league champions from playing the last place team in the first round because it could damage RPI and affect post-season bracketing.
A proposal sent to us allows teams to eliminate the bottom four or five opponents from the RPI standings. This could be used in almost every sport where teams play 15-23 regular season games but the number would be reduced to either 1-2 in football during a 9-10 game season.
Adding this slight change to RPI will allow programs to maintain rivalries with neighboring schools and/or cut down on some travel to play some faraway program to boost RPI.
These are all thoughts that have been presented to us from coaches, athletic directors, and fans across the state. We welcome your thoughts on all ideas for all sports. Our goal is to get the best teams to the state tournament and reward teams for winning every step of the way. We don’t want coaches at any time thinking a loss might be better for them seeding-wise in the next playoff round, and with current formats in many sports for smaller schools, that’s already a discussion.