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High school volleyball: Initial RPI rankings have top teams looking up after playing tough preseason schedules

Lone Peak, Morgan, North Summit among defending champs whose RPI rankings are below what many expect will really happen

Skyridge High School takes on Lone Peak High School in a varsity girls volleyball game at Skyridge High School in Lehi on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019.
Skyridge High School takes on Lone Peak High School in a varsity girls volleyball game at Skyridge High School in Lehi on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019.
Colter Peterson, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — When the UHSAA announced that beginning this year it would seed state tournaments using RPI rankings, one of the biggest positives lauded was helping to prevent top teams playing each other in the early rounds of playoffs and put them on opposite sides of the bracket.

In theory, it’s a great idea, but what if it doesn’t workout that smoothly?

Some volleyball coaches are wondering the same thing after the initial RPI rankings were released last week by the UHSAA. They did acknowledge that the rankings should gradually fall more in line with reality with another month of games but suggested they’ll never truly correct themselves because of out-of-state tournaments.

Volleyball teams in Utah are allowed to play in two tournaments, and some of the top programs opt to challenge themselves in tough out-of-state tourneys. Those tournaments always feature tough competition, and Utah teams often walk away with sub.-500 records.

It happened to North Summit at a tournament in Evanston earlier this year, and last weekend happened to Pleasant Grove, Lone Peak and Skyridge in Las Vegas.

Those losses are punishing teams in the RPI rankings, and a slew of region wins can only do so much to the RPI calculations.

“The whole purpose of the RPI was making sure people played each other at the right times. You’re still going to have teams playing teams at the wrong time anyway,” said Lone Peak coach Reed Carlson, whose team went 2-4 in Las Vegas last week. “What they tried to avoid is going to inevitably happen anyway.”

Defending state champion Lone Peak is ranked fifth in the latest 6A RPI rankings behind Syracuse, Fremont, Pleasant Grove and Copper Hills.

Carlson said he isn’t really concerned with the current RPI rankings and won’t change the way he schedules going forward either if his team is punished in the RPI.

“I definitely will not stop going out of state and traveling and playing those teams because of RPI. I’d rather lose against the best teams in the country and have my RPI suffer than stay in the state of Utah and not improve. The improvement to me is so valuable,” said Carlson.

For Lone Peak and Pleasant Grove — which went 4-3 in Las Vegas and sits in third in the RPI rankings — it really doesn’t matter what their RPI ranking is in the playoffs, they’ll still be the tournament favorites.

For many teams though, where they’re seeded will have a direct impact on their tournament run. Enterprise coach Brian Phelps can see a scenario this year in which top teams meet very early in the 2A playoffs — which is what the system was supposed to prevent again.

In his mind, three-time defending state champion North Summit is still very much the best team in 2A, but it’s ranked 10th in the RPI.

North Summit is being punished in the rankings for posting a 2-6 record at the Border Wars Tournament in Evanston where it played against bigger and better teams from Wyoming.

Waterford has the top RPI ranking in 2A with an 11-0 record has only played two teams of note. If the two teams meet in the playoffs, it’s no secret who the heavy favorite would be.

Enterprise is fourth in the RPI rankings in 2A after a so-so showing at the Skyline Tournament a few weeks ago. Phelps said he can imagine a scenario in which the two teams meet early in the tournament.

“You could get two teams who played difficult schedules playing in the first round,” said Phelps. “I am not a big fan of it.”

The other top seeds are Farmington (5A), Juan Diego (4A), San Juan (3A) and Panguitch (1A).

Four-time state champion Morgan is only ranked fourth in the current 3A rankings after losing three games to upper-classification teams. If the playoffs started today, though, the Trojans would be the obvious front runner.

Richfield has enjoyed a strong season and sits in second in the rankings, but coach Cassy Moon said she has no idea how much the rankings will change over the rest of the year.

“I’m not quite sure until we give it a little more time to see where it ends up,” she said.

Morgan plays in another tournament this year and unless it wins the majority of its games it could easily remaining in the fourth spot in the RPI heading into the playoffs. That would create a scenario where the RPI No. 1 plays the perceived No. 1 in the semifinals.

It’s what the RPI was supposed to guard against, and those scenarios are why coaches are scratching their heads hoping things sort themselves out.

Class 6A

Listed by rank, with win-loss record and RPI also reported

1. Syracuse — 5-0 — 0.668245

2. Fremont — 12-1 — 0.656364

3. Pleasant Grove — 9-3 — 0.642265

4. Copper Hills — 13-2 — 0.637413

5. Lone Peak — 5-4 — 0.567817

6. Bingham — 9-4 — 0.558969

7. American Fork — 8-6 — 0.553673

8. Davis — 11-6 — 0.541943

9. Skyridge — 6-5 — 0.529162

10. West Jordan — 11-3 — 0.517311

11. Northridge — 11-8 — 0.512597

12. Riverton — 4-4 — 0.483157

13. Corner Canyon — 5-7 — 0.475452

14. Westlake — 4-8 — 0.467367

15. West — 6-6 — 0.466784

16. Layton — 2-3 — 0.458932

17. Taylorsville — 7-4 — 0.450304

18. Herriman — 4-9 — 0.43042

19. Weber — 4-13 — 0.400642

20. Granger — 3-4 — 0.371332

21. Hunter — 2-4 — 0.350967

22. Clearfield — 1-5 — 0.338958

23. Jordan — 0-4 — 0.319006

24. Roy — 1-17 — 0.299338

25. Kearns — 0-5 — 0.272526

26. Cyprus — 1-5 — 0.244164

Class 5A

Listed by rank, with win-loss record and RPI also reported

1. Farmington — 11-0 — 0.717495

2. Mountain View — 12-2 — 0.666084

3. Timpview — 6-1 — 0.652741

4. Brighton — 10-2 — 0.612516

5. Maple Mountain — 10-3 — 0.599817

6. Park City — 9-3 — 0.591887

7. Alta — 11-6 — 0.556315

8. Skyline — 8-4 — 0.555591

9. Lehi — 6-6 — 0.554738

10. Bountiful — 6-6 — 0.536584

11. Murray — 6-5 — 0.518943

12. Salem Hills — 3-2 — 0.495411

13. Mountain Ridge — 7-8 — 0.482556

14. Hillcrest — 4-3 — 0.479517

15. Cottonwood — 3-4 — 0.478551

16. Box Elder — 3-7 — 0.477121

17. Woods Cross — 4-7 — 0.47115

18. Orem — 6-8 — 0.467278

19. Timpanogos — 4-7 — 0.452765

20. Spanish Fork — 3-9 — 0.446901

21. Springville — 2-4 — 0.421979

22. Olympus — 2-3 — 0.418033

23. Wasatch — 5-7 — 0.417587

24. Bonneville — 2-9 — 0.413403

25. Provo — 4-8 — 0.394232

26. Payson — 2-9 — 0.388937

27. Viewmont — 2-16 — 0.333493

28. East — 1-4 — 0.310497

29. Highland — 0-6 — 0.240235

Class 4A

Listed by rank, with win-loss record and RPI also reported

1. Juan Diego — 10-4 — 0.633356

2. Desert Hills — 10-3 — 0.614302

3. Cedar — 9-4 — 0.612752

4. Mountain Crest — 8-4 — 0.60563

5. Stansbury — 11-3 — 0.599527

6. Ridgeline — 8-4 — 0.595133

7. Uintah — 10-6 — 0.587842

8. Sky View — 7-7 — 0.557413

9. Green Canyon — 7-6 — 0.55606

10. Snow Canyon — 7-6 — 0.522283

11. Crimson Cliffs — 7-7 — 0.494088

12. Hurricane — 8-7 — 0.492188

13. Ogden — 7-6 — 0.461506

14. Tooele — 3-5 — 0.431556

15. Dixie — 6-16 — 0.416186

16. Pine View — 4-10 — 0.380619

17. Canyon View — 4-9 — 0.376113

18. Logan — 3-9 — 0.364747

19. Bear River — 2-8 — 0.350769

20. Cedar Valley — 1-6 — 0.31526

21. Ben Lomond — 0-12 — 0.265247

Class 3A

Listed by rank, with win-loss record and RPI also reported

1. San Juan — 14-2 — 0.766059

2. Richfield — 15-2 — 0.753866

3. Union — 19-4 — 0.701895

4. Morgan — 9-3 — 0.691766

5. Grand County — 10-4 — 0.649408

6. North Sanpete — 5-1 — 0.595858

7. Carbon — 8-4 — 0.592694

8. South Summit — 7-6 — 0.583692

9. South Sevier — 7-8 — 0.524037

10. Judge Memorial — 6-6 — 0.493565

11. Grantsville — 4-9 — 0.458642

12. Emery — 5-9 — 0.455867

13. Juab — 5-9 — 0.434869

14. Summit Academy — 4-8 — 0.431025

15. Providence Hall — 7-9 — 0.41653

16. Maeser Prep — 5-8 — 0.407952

17. Delta — 4-9 — 0.403862

18. Manti — 2-13 — 0.32841

19. ALA — 1-7 — 0.320682

Class 2A

Listed by rank, with win-loss record and RPI also reported

1. Waterford — 11-0 — 0.688805

2. Millard — 9-0 — 0.64684

3. Wasatch Academy — 3-1 — 0.600111

4. Enterprise — 6-6 — 0.580335

5. Kanab — 7-6 — 0.569233

6. Gunnison Valley — 8-4 — 0.544923

7. Monticello — 2-4 — 0.540366

8. Freedom Prep — 5-1 — 0.535437

9. Layton Christian — 4-3 — 0.512353

10. North Summit — 4-9 — 0.509128

11. North Sevier — 5-7 — 0.478279

12. Rowland Hall — 9-9 — 0.476704

13. St. Joseph — 8-9 — 0.46698

14. Duchesne — 3-5 — 0.46588

15. Merit — 9-9 — 0.437141

16. Draper APA — 4-6 — 0.415778

17. Altamont — 1-9 — 0.396853

18. American Heritage — 2-4 — 0.362146

19. Beaver — 2-9 — 0.361933

20. Parowan — 2-10 — 0.360651

21. UM-Hillfield — 1-8 — 0.318986

22. Rockwell — 2-6 — 0.31123

23. APA West Valley — 1-10 — 0.280911

24. UM-Camp Williams — 0-2 — 0.136798

Class 1A

Listed by rank, with win-loss record and RPI also reported

1. Panguitch — 8-1 — 0.744525

2. Monument Valley — 4-1 — 0.740956

3. Water Canyon — 8-1 — 0.678998

4. ICS — 17-2 — 0.672295

5. Rich — 8-5 — 0.6213

6. Green River — 6-2 — 0.602168

7. Piute — 7-5 — 0.598452

8. Milford — 5-2 — 0.59345

9. Valley — 8-4 — 0.590913

10. Tabiona — 12-7 — 0.562028

11. Manila — 11-6 — 0.558701

12. Escalante — 4-3 — 0.556647

13. Whitehorse — 3-4 — 0.533913

14. Bryce Valley — 3-10 — 0.426278

15. Diamond Ranch — 1-6 — 0.424536

16. Tintic — 3-10 — 0.4082

17. Wayne — 3-9 — 0.407199

18. Pinnacle — 3-10 — 0.37221

19. Wendover — 1-9 — 0.353686

20. Mount Vernon — 2-6 — 0.346494

21. Dugway — 3-7 — 0.336175

22. USDB — 0-8 — 0.267805