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MSHSL defends drastic volleyball changes

By Donny Henn

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

What’s more fair, having three section tournaments with roughly the same number of teams in each class, or having teams which are closer in size in each class?

The latter if you ask the Minnesota State High School League.

Making the teams in each section tournament more equally competitive, i.e., closer in size, was the rationale the MSHSL used in realigning teams for the 2007 volleyball season.

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The realignment beginning next school year will drastically alter the makeup of two local section tournaments.

The Section 1AAA tournament, which for the last two years has included all four Rochester teams, will be reduced from 18 teams to just 12 teams.

The 1AA tournament will grow from 17 to 25 teams, while the 1A tournament remains roughly the same size.

"The MSHSL Board of Directors chose to group a number of sports, including volleyball, with a different philosophy," explained Craig Perry, an associate director with the league.

Perry said that rather than dividing the classes equally by the number of participating schools, they chose to try to reduce the ratio between the largest and smallest school in each class.

"For example, if the largest school in the class had 500 students and the smallest school had 100 then the ratio would be 5 to 1. The Board looked to reduce that ratio to between 2 to 1 or 3 to 1. The numbers (under realignment) are very close to those ratios and work for tournament play."

Lakeville North volleyball coach Milan Mader said the volleyball coaches association was mostly opposed to these changes.

"It is disappointing to many of us volleyball coaches that MSHSL has ignored our proposal to leave sections as they are; 70 percent of us did not want the change," Mader explained.

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Mader said he thinks the new section alignments "might work for softball and baseball, but volleyball programs will be hurting."

Mader said that the Volleyball Coaches Association is going to propose that the league reverse this realignment decision for the 2008 season.

"But I think there is very little hope that they (will) oblige," he said.

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