Wednesday, 7 June 2023

International Volleyball

Tawa’s Club Dots: A steady diet of at-large guesses and other things

Tawa’s Club Dots: A steady diet of at-large guesses and other things

With qualifier season over for 2023, the fields for Junior Nationals are filling, via regional qualifying events for all but the Open division; and via a super secretive selection process for the nine Open At-Large bids still outstanding in the 15-17s high school age groups we cover.

I served on the selection committee one year and, let me tell you, it was eye opening.

When I was on it…

1. Committee members were mostly from Texas
2. They did not watch teams play outside of the normal course of their coach/club director/referee duties
3. They did not focus on size of a qualifier or quality of a qualifier field
4. They did not focus on circumstances of a particular finish (eg, injuries, absences or bad luck (wrong side of 3-way tie))
5. They looked at qualifier finish  (T-5 good, even if only 20 teams, two ranked; T-11 bad even if 40 teams, 20 ranked)
6. They looked at record versus qualified field
7. They looked at record versus At-Large candidate field

That’s it.

Team X beats the No. 1 team in the country twice but is 4-8 versus the qualified field? Pretty good. Team Y beats trickle down qualifier six times but is 0-5 versus everyone else?  That’s better! Team Y is in!

Bottom line: It’s not a great system and oftentimes does not identify the best candidates to complete the Open field.

• The 15 Open field has five At-Large bids to fill the 36-team field. Who should get them?

AZ Sky 15-1 Gold did not have a great Lone Star (4-3 in Open; 21st) but its T-5 at Red Rock (7-1; loss only to national No. 2 TAV 15 Black) backs up its incredible T-3 at Triple Crown. This team should be in.

So, too, should Alamo 15 Premier. Remember that last year’s Alamo 15 Premier team WON Junior Nationals as an At-Large. Not saying it will happen again, but this team deserves a shot.  After a 4-3 showing at Triple Crown (beat AZ Sky; lost only to teams ranked among the top 11 nationally), Alamo placed fourth at Big South, just out of bid position; and also had two T-9s. Click on this link to see a video of Alamo’s Alyssa Walker, who unloads on a ball: Alyssa Walker, Alamo 17s Premier

After these two, the Committee should strong consider HJV 15 Elite, TAV Houston 15 Adidas, Jupiter Elite 15E,  SynergyForce 15 Lisa, Top Select 15 Elite, Triangle 15 Black and WPVC 15 Armour Black. The guess here is that your five At-Large selections will come from these nine squads.

• The 16 Open field has two At-Large spots, both from Lone Star, which awarded a lone bid…

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