High School Sports

Mission Prep feeling left out after playoff snub

Mission Prep’s lack of a league has left the school’s girls volleyball team feeling left out in the cold come playoff time. In a related move that might prevent it from happening again, the Royals could be on their way to the Los Padres League in all sports for next year, including football.

On Sunday, Mission Prep found itself left out of the 33-team CIF-Southern Section Division 3AA girls volleyball playoff bracket. It made many at the school upset, as the Royals (22-11) finished the regular season ranked No. 10 in the division and went 12-0 this year in matches against LPL teams within the division, four of whom did make the playoffs.

But because three teams throughout the division who do belong to leagues got into the bracket as at-large entries (including a wild-card match), there wasn’t room for the independent Royals, who’re in their first year in the Southern Section after transitioning from the Central Section this past offseason.

As long as a team from a league has a winning record, it gets priority for the postseason, and any freelance school takes a backseat.

For an independent program such as Mission Prep to have guaranteed itself a spot, it had to win at least 80 percent of its schedule. The Royals were just under 70 percent.

“They basically just said, ‘Hey, our hands are tied,’ ” Mission Prep athletic director John Krossa said of Southern Section officials. “Unfortunately, the way the rules are set up, we’re out. It’s pretty unjust.

“None of this is the LPL’s fault,” he added.

The stipulations that kept the Royals out were readily known coming into the season, Southern Section communications director Thom Simmons said, and are put in place by a governing council comprised of the section’s member schools.

“We’re not looking for ways to keep schools out of the playoffs,” Simmons said of the Southern Section office. “All we do is enforce the rules (put in place by the council).”

A school could put forth a proposal to change the rule at yearly council meetings in Long Beach, Simmons said. The next meeting is in January, and the proposal would be voted on in April.

“They need to change this rule,” Krossa said. “This is a real hole that they have.”

Royals coach Michelle Lakey wondered if it would’ve been better for the Royals to be placed in another division that would’ve had more room. The Division 4AA bracket, for example, has six opening-round byes. A year ago, there would’ve been an opening in the Division 3AA bracket, Krossa said.

“We’re very frustrated about it,” Lakey said.

In 2009, the Royals advanced to the Southern California Regional Division V championship match. Five starters were back from that squad.

“I feel bad,” Lakey said. “I’m telling the girls we’re sorry they didn’t have an opportunity to try to fight for another title, but I’m proud of them and that they did well.

“My goal for us is to get into a league,” she added.

This past year, Mission Prep applied to get into the LPL for all sports except football, due to enrollment-related concerns over roster depth and player size that become an issue in that sport only. The LPL turned the Royals down, wanting them for football, as well.

But following the Royals’ 21-7 football win over LPL opponent Nipomo on Oct. 29, Mission Prep again expressed interest in joining the league, this time for all sports, starting next year.

The possible move, which would not only provide a pre-existing rival for LPL teams, but also help save on travel costs for Morro Bay, Nipomo and Templeton, will be discussed in the near future, LPL secretary and Morro Bay athletic director John Andree said.

LPL athletic directors would eventually make a formal recommendation to their schools’ principals, who’d have final say.Andree said he supports the idea of the Royals joining, and that he envisions the move taking place.

“It fits nicely for us,” Andree said. “I think if you took a straw poll, most principals would be in favor of letting them in.”

In an e-mail sent to players and parents from the volleyball team, Krossa wrote that if the school were denied entry into the LPL, it would look next year at putting together a schedule to make an .800 winning percentage more feasible.