Sunday, 3 December 2023

NCAA Womens Volleyball

2023 Week 1 regional rankings: [Yawn, followed by a satisfying stretch]

Burns promoted from assistant to head coach at Rockford

The first regional rankings of the season have been published. That is almost exciting. Almost.

This week’s alphabetical lists are nothing to be confident in or too concerned about. Teams are not listed in ranked orders because not all of the primary criteria are accounted for.

Region VIII
Mount St. Joseph
North Park
Washington-St. Louis
Wisconsin-Stevens Point

Region IX
Gustavus Adolphus
St. Catherine
Saint Benedict

For what it’s worth, I had Wisconsin-Platteville instead of Stevens Point in Region VIII and St. Olaf instead of Coe in Region IX.

I understand the argument for alphabetizing the first published rankings. In short, the reason is to avoid confusion when/if the second regional rankings fluctuate wildly due to the results versus ranked opponents criterion being included. The rankings audience cannot handle that one element of nuance? Got it.

So, instead of fielding some angry missives from coaches/administrators/etc. and providing a one-time piece of educational feedback to those few merely unfamiliar with the process, we in effect opted to burn two of the three regional rankings that will be published ahead of selections.

The first rankings nearly literally do not matter unless the likes of Juniata and Emory are overlooked. The second rankings — still not great because the first rankings are alphabetical — should reveal consistent shapes in logic across regions but also do not matter. Only the third rankings, built on the necessary criteria foundations of the second week, give us a solid grasp on the to-date selection landscape.

We get there in the end. Barely. Perhaps one week of meaningful, foundational regional rankings is enough. I’m OK with the current system, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

In what is turning out to be a yearly plea, I hope the division votes to publish the so-called “practice” regional rankings in alphabetical order. The committees did them last week anyway, so it’s no additional work. If we’re really convinced that burning two pre-selection rankings is the best solution, then why not burn two of four rankings instead of two of three?

My ideal resolution is to return to numerically ordering everything no matter how many rankings are published. You know, maybe give another attempt at trusting adults to be adults when a bit of nuance (such as results vs. ranked opponents suddenly appearing in…

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