HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL
Longer matches considered for high school volleyball
WAIKOLOA, Hawaii » In the eyes of some, five is better than three.
That's why, though a best-of-three volleyball match is currently the norm for the state championships, things could change soon. With girls volleyball season just two months away, a measure to extend matches is still alive at the Hawaii Interscholastic Athletic Directors Association conference.
Currently, state-tourney matches are a best-of-three-games format, though three of the state's five leagues play a best-of-five format in the regular season.
The public school Oahu Interscholastic Association and private school Interscholastic League of Honolulu were the two leagues that didn't use a best-of-five in the recent boys and girls volleyball seasons. The ILH, however, did use a best-of-five format a few seasons back.
Though the proposal was defeated in committee on Thursday, it will take the floor today in a minority report. If the measure passes, it goes to the Hawaii High School Athletic Association executive board for what is normally a rubber-stamp passage.
In that case, leagues would likely follow suit and adopt a new format. The OIA, which added a Blue Division last year to increase participation in girls volleyball, may not have its usual clout come voting time this morning. A Blue Division, which allows upperclassmen to play in league, but not for a state title, helps the OIA improve gender-equity numbers.
The OIA is likely to vote as a block and resist a best-of-five format, partly because of potentially higher officiating costs for longer matches and partly because tripleheader scheduling already makes for a long stretch on school nights.
ILH athletic directors, familiar with the best-of-five setup, may favor the format. That would leave the OIA, with 24 votes, vastly outnumbered by other leagues.
"I think it has a chance," Kamehameha-Hawaii athletic director Bob Wagner said of the proposal. "Three leagues already do it."
Another proposal that is up for vote today calls for leagues to have at least three teams to be considered for one state-tournament berth. The ILH had Division II state-tourney entries in boys soccer (Mid-Pacific), softball (Pac-Five) and baseball (Maryknoll) despite having only one D-II member for those sports during league play. Mid-Pacific and Pac-Five won state crowns. Maryknoll reached the quarterfinals before being ousted.
The proposal was approved in committee on Thursday and has plenty of supporters from several leagues. However, University athletic director Jim Bukes sees it as unnecessary tinkering with a ratio formula that has served leagues well.
"The three-team issue, on paper, has merit. But, in practicality, we could end up with only three leagues in Division II," Bukes warned. "With this (proposal), you could have a state tournament with only three leagues."
There was a time, he noted, when the ILH was one of the leagues that opposed the current ratio formula.
"We learned to live with it. The formula's worked for 15, 18 years now. It's been harmonious for many years," Bukes said. "That's the concern I have, (changing) the foundation of the formula."
Iolani co-athletic director Carl Schroers echoed Bukes' observations.
"If it passes, that could have some hidden effects down the road. It might force some schools to move up (to Division I) instead of staying in D-II," he said, noting the growth of newer private schools like Island Pacific in Kapolei.
"I don't think the other (leagues) want us to have a third or fourth state berth (in D-I)," Schroers added.
Another byproduct of a rule change, if this proposal passes HIADA and the HHSAA board, is that leagues like the MIL could be affected. Currently, there are three MIL D-II football teams, and one of them -- St. Anthony -- struggled to get numbers in spring football.
Yet another proposal -- to create a uniform, statewide criteria for classification -- was reinterpreted yesterday. The Big Island Interscholastic Federation's proposal -- incorporating enrollment, a private-school multiplier and a weighted approach to sport-by-sport enrollment cutoff numbers -- did not have a multiplier of 1.5, as some administrators previously said. The multiplier in the proposal was actually 2.0, a number far greater than used in some mainland state associations.
"Even in our league, 60 percent were for and 40 percent were against," Wagner said. "(A multiplier of) 2.0 is a big number."
A common gripe among fans across the state is that the OIA, with large enrollments, is pushing its strength and weight around by participating in Division II state tournaments -- facing schools with relatively minuscule student bodies. Hawaii Baptist athletic director Deren Oshiro believes there's much more to it than that.
"I think part of that rejection (of criteria proposals) is the makeup of the leagues is different. We're still getting comfortable with the classification concept. We're unique enough from one league to another that we need to allow separate criteria," he said, noting that by any of the proposals, HBA would still be in Division II.
"Leagues have been getting used to it, and things seem to be a lot smoother," Oshiro added.
Wagner, a proponent of new ideas and discussion, was glad to see the Maui Interscholastic League offer a proposal for Division III on Thursday. It was shot down quickly, but Wagner can see it in the future.
"On our own (in the BIIF), that's the way to do it first," he said. "Big private schools have a disproportionate effect on public schools. I have a problem going up against schools three times bigger than us.
"I don't think it's healthy for one school to win 16 championships," he added, referring to Punahou.
Interestingly enough, not all smaller schools want to be in Division II. A few months back, Konawaena planned to petition for a move up to Division I in football. That would increase the number of games because other D-II teams didn't field JV teams. More importantly, moving up to D-I in BIIF football reduces budgetary stress because of a humongous effect on home-field gate. An exhibition home game with Kealakehe last fall meant $5,000 for the Konawaena athletic department.
Honokaa was in a similar situation a few years ago and opted to move up to D-I.
"Our JV team went from six games to 11 games overnight," athletic director Keith Tolentino said.