The Arizona Interscholastic Association and Maxpreps.com have made errors in their volleyball power rankings throughout the season up until Wednesday. The previous rankings coaches, players, parents, fans and the media have been looking at all season long included some results from regular season invitational tournaments.
Those results weren’t supposed to be included.
The error was noticed recently and the rankings including only regular season matches have been calculated and posted Wednesday on aia365.com. It has drastically changed the positions of several teams, including those considered among the top 10 in their division.
Many teams have already finished their season. The season’s last matches will be played tonight.
In Division I, Sandra day O’Connor (6-10) has relied on its strength of schedule all season, the toughest in the state BY FAR, and had sat comfortably within the top 12 all season. But that didn’t help the team either and now for the second straight season, O’Connor will see that strength of schedule work against it as it now sits at No. 19.
O’Connor is also likely out of a postseason place.
O’Connor coach Bill Bellis said he had a conference call early Thursday morning when officials at Maxpreps.com and the AIA, including MaxPreps Business Development Director Mike Wilkes, broke the news to him that there was an error in the rankings and that his team will not make the postseason. Bellis was told that his team’s wins at the Phoenix Goldwater Volleyball Festival tournament, where O’Connor impressed to finish in the gold bracket, were "mysteriously" accounted for in the power rankings. Teams O’Connor beat in the tournament included Chaparral, Shadow Mountain, Desert Vista and Cactus Shadows.
Bellis told azcentral sports/ITL said that he isn’t bothered by the error. He is bothered that it took this long — Wednesday, two days before the season ends — to recognize it.
"It’s no problem that they made a mistake but what I don’t understand is why did it just happen now?" Bellis said. "Why lead us on the whole year and let us think that this new system was good for my team and for our kind of schedule. … Obviously nothing can be done about it. It is what it is. Bottom line, as a coach, if you win more games, you’ll make the playoffs. That’s what it’s all about."
But O’Connor also doesn’t have power over how its power-point schedule is made and gets punished for having the toughest one in the state.
"I told them (officials on the phone), now I got to go and tell 15 girls that they’re not in the playoffs because of a mistake," Bellis said. "I told them, you don’t know how I feel and you don’t know how my girls feel."
To which, an official responded according to Bellis: "I guess I will never really know that."
Corona del Sol’s worst fears have been realized. Before the correction, Corona del Sol was at No. 12. It is now No. 17. Corona has a 10-6 record but it also has one of the toughest schedules in the state, which apparently isn’t helping its power ranking.
Though no one outside the AIA and MaxPreps knows what the power rankings formula is (it has not been made public), It is stil unlikely Corona del Sol can jump into the top 16 with a win over No. 34 Desert Mountain tonight. Corona del Sol will need to get to No. 15 since Kofa (now No. 16 overall) is now third in Section I.
The correction has helped former No. 19 Rincon (13-4), which now sees itself at No. 9.
Westview had once been in the top 3 of Section I and on track to earning a berth in the postseason but is now fourth in the section behind Kofa.
In Division II, four-time champion Sunnyslope, once at No. 9, now is seemingly out of the running for the postseason at No. 17.
Like in Division I, all of the top three teams in each section of Division II are in the overall top 16.
Canyon del Oro had once sat at No. 18 but has jumped to No. 16.
In Division III, Florence drops from No. 2 to No. 12. Higley was at No. 13 and is now No. 17. Higley has finished its season.
Snowflake, once No. 17, jumps into the top 16 at No. 13. Fountain Hills was at No. 15 and is now out of a postseason spot at No. 20. Fountain Hills plays No. 35 Estrella Foothills tonight.
In Division IV, Valley Christian jumps from No. 6 to No. 1. But no team that was in the top 16 before the correction dropped out.
Top 16 form also held in Division V. There were teams that jumped up and down a couple of spots but no team dropped out.
Bellis said the way the AIA did the power rankings was much better. At least then, the formula was public and coaches are able to figure out where they will stand after seeing results of the day’s matches.
"Last year, we knew; it was cut and dry," Bellis said. "I don’t know who’s checking the score reporting week to week this season. Last year, we knew the formula. We knew that if we beat this team and this team loses and so on, we have a shot at getting in."
Maxpreps.com sent out a statement Thursday afternoon regarding the mistake:
"Through a final-check of the AIA volleyball seedings powered by MaxPreps, it was discovered that invitational tournament games had been mistakenly included in the algorithm.
The following is the statement from Mike Wilkes, MaxPreps Business Development Director:
As part of the process of preparing for the AIA post-season, MaxPreps ran a final-check across their database this past week. MaxPreps found a number of invitational games from several different tournaments that had not been removed from the seeding formula. In order to ensure the integrity of the AIA post-season seedings, which requires no invitational contests are included, MaxPreps has removed these invitational results from the formula.
This change will negatively affect the seed of 6% of volleyball teams. MaxPreps is in the process of communicating with Volleyball Coaches and Athletic Directors whose team’s seeding will be impacted by the removal of the invitational games from the seeding formula. MaxPreps apologizes for the confusion this causes any coaches, players and fans.
“While we would prefer that mistakes never happen, especially when it affects our member players, we appreciate the effort of MaxPreps to ensure accuracy and its transparency in resolving the error as soon as it was discovered” says AIA Executive Director Dr. Harold Slemmer. “We are confident that with its experience, expertise and integrity, MaxPreps will continue to do everything in their power to ensure accuracy for our member schools and their players.”
The updated volleyball seedings through games played on Tuesday, October 23, will be released on AIA365.com this afternoon.
The final seedings will be released on Saturday, October 27, during the AIA365.com Fall Preview Show beginning at 9 a.m. on AIA365.com.
To review the seedings before and after the correction was made go to http://www.aia365.com/rankings/volleyball-girls/d1.
For questions or more information, please contact Mike Wilkes of MaxPreps at firstname.lastname@example.org or Shay Evers, AIA Public Information Officer at shayeversAIA@gmail.com."
azcentral sports/ITL has made more calls out to coaches for comment and will update this post as we get them.