AURORA — A subgroup of the volleyball committee has been hard at work examining the current format of the sport's state tournament.

The subcommittee was tasked with formulating thoughts and ideas, and exploring whether the current format was the best option. As part of that, they've crafted a proposal to have a bracket replace the current pool play setup.

This proposal, which keeps the number of state qualifiers at 12 per class, will be discussed and likely voted on by the volleyball committee at its next meeting, which will come in November. But, prior to that, they're seeking feedback from member schools.

If the volleyball committee does forward the proposal, it would be voted on by the Legislative Council at its January 2018 meeting. If approved there, it could potentially be implemented for the fall 2018 season.

What follows is the proposal itself, including background, rationale and an example bracket. It was created entirely by the subcommittee.

The subcommittee is seeking feedback from school personnel, including coaches and administrators. That feedback may be directed to Caleb Howard at

CHSAA volleyball state format proposal

State volleyball Denver Coliseum venue generic

(Ryan Casey/

Background: Over the course of a few months, a volleyball subcommittee met to take a look at the current state format. The subcommittee was made up of a mix of coaches and athletic directors from all different sized schools in various locations around the state.

The goal of the subcommittee was to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the current state format to decide if there was a format that would be better for the schools, fans, coaches, and especially the players. With that goal in mind, the subcommittee started with a list of pros and cons and then explored many different format options to see which would contain the most strengths while also eliminating the most weaknesses.

Rationale: The subcommittee set out to find a format that would meet several characteristics.

  • Keeping all 5 classes playing at the same location
  • Keeping all 5 classes playing the finals at the same time
  • Keeping the number of teams at the state tournament at 12
  • Keeping all 12 teams playing multiple matches on multiple days
  • Eliminating matches between teams who are already eliminated
  • Eliminating tiebreaker matches
  • Creating a Saturday schedule that keeps the number of matches realistic for teams playing in the championship
  • Creating a Saturday schedule that will ensure that Championship matches begin on time
  • Creating a schedule that is simpler for fans to understand and easier to predict for game times

It should be mentioned that while all of these characteristics were important, the most emphasis was given to Saturday's schedule. The last two years there have been limited tiebreakers and yet the championship match has still had to be pushed back. If there is a year of several tiebreakers, the starting time for the championship matches would have to start at an unrealistic time.

The Proposal:

State volleyball Mountain Vista Fossil Ridge generic

(Ryan Casey/

It was very difficult to find a format that would meet all of the criteria listed above. After exploring several options that included pool play, single elimination brackets, consolation brackets, and double elimination brackets, the format on which the committee settled was one called an Olympic Crossover Bracket. Essentially, it is a double elimination bracket that becomes single elimination bracket once teams reach the semifinals. A copy of the bracket is available below, or by clicking here.

This format offers numerous advantages. The biggest change to the state tournament would come in the fact that this bracket requires 21 matches to complete (the current format has 15). Therefore, the state tournament would become a 3-day tournament taking place on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Details of the bracket:

  • 12 teams from each classification would qualify for state. Note: Regionals will remain the same pool play format (3A-5A: 12 regional winners, 1A-2A: 8 regional winners + 4 wildcards).
  • The top 4 seeds get a bye to the second round.
  • Every team is guaranteed at least two matches.
  • When a team loses, they are moved from the Winner's Bracket to the Contender's Bracket.
  • The semifinals will be made up of 2 teams who win their portion of the Winner's Bracket and 2 teams who win their portion of the Contender's Bracket.
  • Once the semifinals begin, and a team loses, it is out of the bracket.



  • 8 a.m.: Match A
  • 9:30 a.m.: Match B
  • 11 a.m.: Match C
  • 12:30 a.m.: Match D
  • 2 p.m.: Match E
  • 3:30 p.m.: Match F
  • 5 p.m.: Match G
  • 6:30 p.m.: Match H


  • 8:00 Match I
  • 9:30 Match J
  • 11:00 Match K
  • 12:30 Match L
  • 2:00 Match M
  • 3:30 Match N
  • 5:00 Match O
  • 6:30 Match P


  • 8 a.m.: Match Q
  • 9:30 a.m.: Match R
  • 12 p.m.: Semifinal No. 1
  • 2 p.m.: Semifinal No. 2
  • 6 p.m.: Finals

Strengths of this format

  • Every team is guaranteed to play at least two matches. Every team will play on Thursday and Friday, and only the final 6 will play on Saturday.
  • Every team has the ability to lose one match (before the semifinals) and still come back and win it all. This is different than pool play in which most teams who lose a match are eliminated. The advantage of offering this double elimination is that even if a team gets a "bad draw" on their seeding from RPI, they still have the ability to play it out at state.
  • Adding a third day will increase overall attendance, and therefore revenue, for the tournament.
  • The schedule for Saturday is very open and simple. With only 5 matches and no chance of a tiebreaker, the finals are sure to start on time. Additionally, teams will be able to have a longer break between matches and longer warmup times on the court, encouraging a higher level of play in the final 3 matches.


State volleyball Fossil Ridge Highlands Ranch generic

(Ryan Casey/

This new format is certainly a change from the current pool play format. However, this new format adds a new level of excitement and comeback ability for all the teams. Additionally, there are no longer any matches between eliminated teams, thus ensuring that every one of the 21 matches will be meaningful.

The biggest change is undoubtedly the addition of a third day. There is obviously an added cost for getting the Coliseum for another day, but that should easily be offset by increased attendance. There will also be an additional cost to most teams to spend one more night in Denver.

However, the many advantages of this format really seem to outweigh the additional costs. Plus, there are already several sports that conduct their state tournament across 3 days (boys and girls basketball, boys and girls track, boys and girls tennis, wrestling, etc.).

Overall, this format would provide a healthy change to current format. There are so many great things about the CHSAA State Volleyball tournament already, and this change would simply enhance the atmosphere, experience, and competition of the tournament.

Sample bracket

Download: PDF