One of the biggest challenges facing any high school governing body is postseason pairings.
It can be argued that piecing together the optimum pairings, given the challenges of geography and other variables, is more important than the actual outcomes of the matches themselves.
Another one of those challenges will be undertaken soon as the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union puts together its postseason volleyball pairings.
There are a million ways to formulate pairings. You can put them all together before the season and hope they turn out well. You can do them completely based on a seeding process, but then there's the matter of coming up with the fairest seeding process. You can wait until about midway through the season to try and decide who the best teams are and release them then.
That's what the IGHSAU tries to do in most of its major sports. And that's again the case in volleyball this year, as the girls union plans to release its pairings on Sept. 28.
Through the years, I believe they've done a credible job, working to get the best teams to their state tournaments. Of course, every school can think of examples where they disagree with that, when they were given what they believed to be unfairly difficult draws.
This year, it will be extremely interesting to see what the IGHSAU does with the Class 2-A volleyball pairings in the western part of the state. Before we take a closer look, let's take a moment to acknowledge The World-Herald's latest western Iowa ratings. Sioux City Heelan (Class 5-A/4-A/3-A) and Council Bluffs St. Albert (Class 2-A/1-A) are the ratings leaders. Keep in mind, the ratings and records reflect play through Wednesday night.
The girls union also released its state ratings on Thursday, and in Class 2-A seven of the top nine teams are located west of Interstate 35. To take it a step further, six of the nine are located from Carroll to the west.
For instance, state No. 4 St. Albert and No. 5 Treynor are about 10 miles apart. No. 2 Hull Western Christian and No. 9 Hinton are 43 miles apart. Hinton and No. 8 Ridge View are 52 miles apart. Ridge View and No. 6 Carroll Kuemper are 63 miles apart. That's a lot of talented volleyball teams in a somewhat compact area of the state.
The IGHSAU hasn't been afraid to get creative with its pairings. It wants the top teams to reach Cedar Rapids. It will need more of that creativity again when it sits down to work on Class 2-A.
Turning back to the western Iowa ratings, Red Oak is the newcomer at No. 5 in Class 5-A/4-A/3-A. The Tigers avenged a loss to previous No. 5 Clarinda in pool play at the Griswold Invitational, but rebounded to beat the Cardinals 25-18, 25-23 in the finals of the tournament.
Underwood earned a promotion among the small schools from 10th to sixth after beating former No. 5 Tri-Center in two straight during a 4-2 showing at the Atlantic Invitational.
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