Ludicrous playoff format has UCCS' chances dim after loss to Regis

By Doug Fitzgerald published October 21, 2011

COLORADO SPRINGS - Nikki Kinzer had 19 kills and seven assisted block but the University of Colorado Colorado Springs saw its playoff hopes dim to a flicker Friday evening with a 3-0 (25-21, 25-17, 31-29) loss to the Regis Rangers Saturday evening at the Gallogly Events Center.

With only five Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference matches remaining, the Mountain Lions (13-10, 7-6 RMAC) now trail both Colorado Christian and Metro State by two full games. While not eliminated, UCCS is now hoping that there is a level that exists somewhere between slim and none.

That the Mountain Lions' prospects are so bleak is a travesty. More on that later but for now know that one of these four teams: New Mexico Highlands (3-10), Colorado Mesa (3-10), Western State (3-10) and Fort Lewis (2-11) will be playoff bound.

UCCS saw its four-match winning streak come to an end Friday thanks in large part to Regis' better passing game.

"Unfortunately, we didn't pass very well," said UCCS coach Keith Barnett. "There's really no reason for it. It's stuff that we spend a lot of time on and a lot of effort."

Kyndall Highlands led Regis (19-5, 10-3 RMAC) with 10 kills. The Rangers front line was effective, registering 10 locks and holding UCCS to a .071 hitting mark, its lowest mark of the season at home and third-lowest overall.

Regis took control of the first set with a five-point run to take a 21-17 lead. In the second set, the Rangers turned a 12-9 deficit into an 18-12 lead thanks in part to three blocks.

"We came out kind of flat and didn't have the energy we needed to compete with a team like this - the number 25 ranked team in the nation," said Barnett. "Not until the third set did we decide to get it together and play the way we can."

The Mountain Lions fought off four match points in the third set before finally succumbing 31-29.

It's hard to overstate the lunacy that is the RMAC volleyball playoff format for 2011. The idea is simple - the top four teams from the East Division will face each other in the first two rounds and the top four teams in the West Division will do the same. The winners will face off the RMAC championship.

But while the idea is simple, the consequence of it makes its advocates appear simple-minded. UCCS currently sits in the No. 6 spot in the East Division standings, two places out of a playoff berth. The Mountain Lions, though, are 6-0 against West Division teams. Colorado Christian and Metro State, which are tied final spot meaning one or the other will likely not qualify, are 6-0 and 5-1 respectively vs. the West.

Conversely, the top three teams in the West (Adams State, Colorado State-Pueblo and Western New Mexico) each have 2-4 records against the East and for each, one of those wins was against Chadron State, which is currently 0-14 in RMAC play. The other four West Division teams (New Mexico Highlands, Colorado Mesa, Fort Lewis and Western State) have combined for a 3-21 record against the East with all three wins coming against Chadron State.

It's a little like four best teams in the NFL having to play against the best four in the Canadian Football League and leaving the rest of the NFL out of the playoffs..

"I'm ashamed of the way the playoffs were organized this year," said Barnett.

So, too, should be its authors.

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Nikki KinzerNikki Kinzer2MB
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