New volleyball postseason format has its pros, cons
Published 4:56 pm Monday, October 23, 2006
Since every one of the four previous Area volleyball tournaments T.R. Miller and W.S. Neal had participated in had been played 70 miles away at Clarke County, probably not many people realized how much quicker Tuesday's tournament was played.
This year's event held at T.R. Miller consisted of two matches and was played in three hours. Granted, it would have been considerably longer if both matches had gone past the minimum three sets.
Part of that was due to the fact the field consisted of only three teams. A bigger part of it was due to the fact the Alabama High School Athletic Association switched Area tournament play from double elimination to single elimination.
By comparison, it took four matches to complete last year's Class 3A Area 1 Tournament, which also consisted of three teams (T.R. Miller, Clarke County and W.S. Neal). That was the minimum number of games it took to complete the tournament. Play could have been extended to a fifth match, all of which to eliminate one school.
Even worse, the 2003 Class 3A Area 1 Tournament consisted of four schools (T.R. Miller, W.S. Neal, Sumter County and Clarke County). It took the maximum seven matches to complete that tournament and to eliminate two teams.
While it put a lot more pressure on her team to win a first-round match this season, which it did Tuesday against W.S. Neal, T.R. Miller coach Sharon peacock likes the switch.
In order to help compensate for the switch to single elimination, the state switched the Area format from the best-of-three to the best-of-five.
While the state says the new format is single elimination, that is not totally true since the Area runner-up also advances to regional play along with the champion.
It is a similar scenario in the revised regional structure. The eight-team regional field now takes the top four teams to the new sub-state round. The first-round is like the Area, single elimination. The final four teams at the regional are guaranteed two more games, the semifinal round and either the championship game or the third place game.
A team in T.R. Miller's position as an Area runner-up could theoretically lose up to four games
before it is finally eliminated. An Area runner-up will lose once in that tournament. It can lose
twice in the regional, in the semifinal round and the third place game. It can then lose for a
fourth time in the sub-state
How many second chances does a team get before it is finally eliminated?
At least T.R. Miller (or W.S. Neal if it had been victorious) was required to win a game in order to advance from the Area. Several teams throughout the state were guaranteed a free pass to the regional without having to win a game at the Area. That includes every number one seed, which includes Andalusia at the 4A Area 2 Tournament held at T.R. Miller), in a three-team Area and both teams in some two-team Areas.
While it is not likely, teams can theoretically go 1-4 in the postseason and “advance” all the way to the sub-state round, which is one level shy of the state tournament.
On the flip side, some schools are knocked out with their first postseason loss. First-round Area losers and Area champions that lose in the first round of the regional fall into that category.
Why not make it the same for everybody in the postseason? When a team loses, it's done. That's it. See you next year.