Volleyball committee recommends new bracket format for state tournament

Valor Christian Lewis-Palmer volleyball

(Ray Chen/ArrayPhoto.com)

AURORA — The state volleyball tournaments could look very different in the near future.

The sport's committee on Tuesday unanimously voted to recommend a bracket format starting next season. Their recommendation will move forward to the Legislative Council for a vote at their next meeting in January.

"We are really excited to be moving in this direction," said CHSAA assistant commissioner Bethany Brookens, who oversees volleyball. "We think that it is the best way forward for our sport."

The bracket proposal, if passed by the Legislative Council, would move volleyball away from its current pool play setup and put all five classifications into a modified double-elimination format. Each class would continue to qualify 12 teams to the state tournament, though it would need to move to a three-day format.

The bracket would keep many of the popular aspects of the current format — teams would still be guaranteed at least two matches over two days; the championship matches would all start at the same time — while getting rid of some of the negatives, according to proponents.

No longer would there be so-called "meaningless" matches, which can happen in the current format with a pool winner already decided. No longer would tiebreakers be required to determine winners of pools where teams all finish 1-1.

Those tiebreakers can often push the state schedule back. This season, for example, the state finals were scheduled to start at 7 p.m. They didn't start until 8:40 p.m. because three pools required tiebreakers.

Additionally, the tiebreakers can cause some teams to play an extraordinary amount of sets in one day with limited amount of rest.

"It just evens it all out," said Eaglecrest coach Tanya Bond, who presented the proposal to the committee. "Everyone is going to have the same experience on Saturday. And hopefully it will be a more meaningful experience, because the fans won't be wondering what's going on, what time the matches are going to be starting, and if they matter."

"This eliminates what the committee found to be the two biggest cons: the tiebreakers and the meaningless matches," Bond added.

Lewis-Palmer Valor Christian volleyball

(Dustin Price/DustinPricePhotography.com)

Officially, the format is known as the Olympic Crossover Bracket. An example of the bracket is listed below.

It was an idea forwarded by a subcommittee that was specifically tasked with looking at the state tournament format in volleyball. That subcommittee met in February, and has solicited feedback ever since.

An overwhelming majority of leagues indicated their support to the subcommittee, and many also communicated their support to the volleyball committee members prior to Tuesday's vote.

Under the proposed format, the top four seeds in each classification receive a first-round bye, with seeds Nos. 5-12 facing off in the first matches. Teams that win those matches advance to face those top-four seeds, while the teams that lose move to the contender's bracket where they still have the chance to advance to the semifinals.

Teams in the winner's bracket move to the contender's bracket if they lose prior to the semifinals. Once the semifinals are set, the bracket becomes a single-elimination tournament.

There was discussion about looking at a state tournament that is double-elimination all the way through, but that would make scheduling difficult, and also negate the increased rest between matches that the Olympic Crossover provides.

Additionally, there was discussion about a simple single-elimination tournament, but the subcommittee received feedback that teams didn't want to stray too far from the current state tournament experience.

"Over and over and over, the volleyball community has said 'We want that volleyball experience,'" Bond said. "If you go single (elimination), that eliminates that experience for a number of kids, and if you go true double, it becomes unmanageable."

"This was a balance between the current model, and getting rid of a number of cons, but also keeping some of the pros," Bond added.

When it came time to vote, the committee was unanimous in its approval.

"It's time to do it," said Rock Canyon athletic director Tom Brieske, a committee member.

If approved, the 2018 state volleyball tournaments would be held Nov. 8-10.


  • There was a lot of discussion around whether 1A and 2A should move away from districts, and more closely mirror what 3A-5A do for regionals. Ultimately, one proposal to move 2A to the 3A-5A format wasn't voted on, but the committee recommended that more work be done on it and be brought back next year.
  • The new district alignments for 1A and 2A were approved. Those will be published with the volleyball committee report in advance of the Legislative Council meeting.
  • An example Olympic Crossover bracket is below.

Example Olympic Crossover bracket