When athletic directors meet long before the volleyball season starts, they must struggle through hundreds of scenarios and discuss every possible ‘what if’ situation.
Like: What if three teams tie for second place and all three teams split their respective series?
Seriously. That question really comes up.
Trophy Club Nelson, Southlake Carroll and Flower Mound all went 10-4 in the District 5-6A schedule. Hebron went 14-0 and entered the playoffs as the defending state champions and top seed from the district.
So, how do you untangle the mess of wires created by the three-way quagmire?
First: Coin flip. Odd-man out sits and gets a ‘first-round bye’ in the seeding system.
Second: The alike coins create a head-to-head, third-game advancement game. The game is played at the home court of the odd-man out. The loser takes the fourth seed.
Third: The winner of the seeding game takes on the odd-man out in the first coin flip for the right to flip a coin again. This takes place immediately following the completion of the game.
Fourth: The winner of this second coin flip takes the second seed, the loser gets third.
Fifth: Each team now has two days to prepare for a specific opponent in the bi-district round of the playoffs.
Sixth: All three teams will lay claim to finishing as district runner-up.
All this was known as late as two days before the start of the playoffs as Flower Mound forced the tie when they knocked off Carroll in three sets on the final day of the regular season.
Having to play two days later between the like-coined (heads) teams – Nelson and Flower Mound – was maybe a good thing for each team, anyway.
“Most playoff teams play warm-up games on Friday,” said Nelson head coach, Libby Pacheco.
Nelson won that match and went on to face Carroll in another coin flip.
Coaches know that routine at this stage of the season is a good thing, and having a Friday game before a Tuesday game keeps the team in synch. Plus, the high level of competition helps keep players sharp and focused.
Carroll, in fact, took on Prosper, Class 5A’s top team, in their tune-up game after they watched the Nelson-Flower Mound game. Going six days without playing wouldn’t be good for the routine of his young team, Carroll head coach Ryan Mitchell said.
“It would be awesome, though, to know who to prepare for,” he said at the time. “But we’re getting ready for either Allen or Plano.”
After winning the flip against Nelson, the Lady Dragons went on to post a three-set match over Plano.
As it was then, fourth-place Flower Mound matched up with Plano West and the third seed Lady Bobcats beat Allen in five sets. Flower Mound dropped out of the playoffs in a loss to Plano West.
“We’re just lucky enough to be in a district that’s so competitive that any of us should be ready for anyone,” Pacheco said.
Another reason teams want to fight for a top three seed out of the district includes a look down the road.
Mitchell noted that, given wins in the first two rounds, the fourth-place team would then have to face Hebron in the third round.
Both Carroll and Nelson have twice taken the state champs to five sets this year.
Now, though, Carroll (36-7) will face Copperas Cove (38-8) while Nelson (36-9) will face South Grand Prairie (24-13) on Thursday.
The only way to make help settle this further? With both local teams winning this week, they’ll again square off in the Region I quarterfinals next week.
And it won’t be decided on a coin flip.