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BATEMAN: Homefield advantage in section final game unfair

JAMIE BATEMAN

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Before the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoff volleyball tournament even began, it was decided that Whitney High School would host the championship game. When announced, this upset people because the Wildcats made it into the tournament and would host the championship game if they were to get there.

I’m not exactly sure whose job it is to decide the location for the final each year, but that person or committee messed up big time this season.

By the time WHS was set in stone as the host for the section championship, it was obvious that the Wildcats had the talent to make a run for the title. They finished Capital Valley Conference play with a 12-2 record, so the team was definitely a top contender.

Even with a strong performance in league, they were given the sixth seed in the bracket and had a tough road ahead of them, so most decided that the host-site problem wasn’t much of an issue.

That was until the Wildcats managed to pull off three straight postseason wins, two of which were upsets, to reach the final which was against the Roseville Tigers at – you guessed it – WHS. Homefield advantage in a section final? That’s just not right.

While this issue proved to be a moot point simply because of how dominating the Tigers were in the game (they swept the Wildcats 3-0), the fact that the venue for the game was not changed was embarrassing and disrespectful to arguably the most dominant team the league has ever seen.

Like I said, none of this matters anymore because the Tigers won and it was apparent that playing at home didn’t exactly give Whitney any big advantages, but what if it had? What if WHS’ students flooded the gym and gave the Wildcats enough energy and drive to overcome the Tigers? That would have caused major problems and it cannot be allowed to happen again.

So, section playoff tournament committees, first things first: don’t pick an obvious title-contender to host a playoff final. Instead, pick a school that’s not even in the tournament. Secondly, if you didn’t follow rule one and now you’re stuck with a team set to play at home in a championship game, change the venue. It’s easy to do and it’s the only fair way to do it.

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