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story.lead_photo.caption The Jefferson City Lady Jays take on the Rock Bridge Lady Bruins in a volleyball match this season at Fleming Fieldhouse. Photo by Sally Ince / News Tribune.
Jason Strickland
Photo by News Tribune/News Tribune.
Jefferson City cross country coach Brett Phillips made a good point last week about how the state cross country championships moving to a different course wouldn't really change which runners and teams would be successful at the meet.

That same logic can be applied to the change coming next year in high school volleyball.

Instead of playing best-of-3 matches, Missouri is joining the vast majority of the country with the best-of-5 format.

In theory, that gives the team that loses the first two sets an opportunity to rally for a win. But just like the cross country example, the final results aren't going to be much different.

If a team is good enough to win two straight sets, then there's really no point to continue the match. There just aren't going to be many occurrences when that team loses in five sets.

Before listing the rest of the negatives, a positive is it'll give players more court time, starters and bench players.

Plus, the future college athletes will get accustomed to longer matches.

"Our kids who do want to pursue a collegiate career are going to have a little exposure to what that's going to look and feel like and maybe be a little better prepared for it," Jefferson City volleyball coach Lisa Hoffmeyer said after a match this past season. "But I think our school work is more important. I would like them to be able to spend a little more time on that."

That's when things start to get tricky.

At the college level, athletics is an even bigger commitment than it is in high school. It makes sense for college programs to use the best-of-5 format.

Making it more challenging to balance school work and athletics is not the way to go at the high school level.

That's a time to kind of ease into that balance and then make the adjustment of the increased load of school and sports once they get to college.

Also, cramming two or three weeknights of five-set volleyball with a weekend tournament a couple hours away means a lot more time devoted to athletics.

"I'm not wild about it just because our girls' schedules are so compact already," Hoffmeyer said. "And we're traveling a lot of times three nights a week, or at least playing games three nights a week. And then hitting the the road on Friday nights and playing an all-day Saturday tournament is a lot of time.

"So I'm not wild about the fact that it's just going to add on into a later evening and make their already very challenging schedule, especially with this 4 o'clock dismissal, it's just going to be really tough on our kids with missing class and getting home now even later."

When the good and the bad are placed on the scale, it's clear which side it's going to lean toward.

It was probably inevitable since Missouri was an outlier with playing best-of-3 matches, but if the transition doesn't go smoothly, maybe the decision will be made to revert back.

It's looking like that would be the right choice.

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