9 CIF Open Division Rules You Need To Know

9 CIF Open Division Rules You Need To Know

The California Interscholastic Federation created an Open Division for the state playoffs, where the top teams, regardless of Division, face off for the undisputed state crown.

Nov 7, 2017 by FloVolleyball Staff
9 CIF Open Division Rules You Need To Know
In some states it's difficult to determine the best overall team, given that many top-ranked squads compete in different divisions.

Not so in California. The California Interscholastic Federation created an "Open Division" for the state playoffs, in which the top teams, regardless of classification, face off for the undisputed state crown.

In California's previous system with no Open Division, last year's Santa Fe Christian team from Solana Beach -- which featured All-American and two-time Ms. Volleyball State Player of the Year Lexi Sun -- would have probably steamrolled its way to a divisional state title. Instead, in the Open Division, Santa Fe Christian reached the CIF Southern California finals where it lost in a close match to Santa Margarita.

Tune in right here on FloVolleyball, November 25, to watch the NorCal and SoCal Regional Championships.

1. There can only be a maximum of four teams from any one section in the Open Division.

This is crucial in the south since the CIF Southern Section is so large and as many as 12 to 15 of the state's top 20 teams are generally in the CIFSS Division I bracket.

That hasn't always been the case, but in addition to the state adding an Open Division, the CIFSS has begun to place teams in playoff divisions based on competitive equity, and not on enrollment.

A very strong CIFSS team that loses in the quarterfinals of its DI bracket, therefore, won't be eligible for the Open Division in the south. It'll be the four semifinalists moving on, such as Santa Margarita, Mater Dei, Mira Costa, and Long Beach Poly from last season.

In the north, the limit of four clearly applies to the CIF Central Coast Section and even more specifically to one league within that section -- the West Catholic Athletic League. The CCS is the home of perennial power Archbishop Mitty of San Jose, which boasts 13 state titles and 10 under current head coach Bret Almazan-Cezar; last year there were three NorCal Open Division teams from the CCS/WCAL. The fourth CCS team in the NorCal Open Division last year was Notre Dame of Belmont, which had just left the WCAL.

2. Before a team can be selected for the Open Division, it has to meet certain eligibility requirements.

For a team to be eligible for Open, it needs to meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Be a champion or regional runner-up in the previous season.
  • Be in the regional playoffs at least three times in the last four years (including current season).
  • Be in the top 10 of either a computer ranking (MaxPreps) or other ranking (including Cal-Hi Sports).

3. A team can choose to move up to the Open Division.

At some point during the various section playoffs, a team that knows it isn't eligible to be chosen for the Open Division can declare it wants to go for it. That option is almost never taken, however.

4. Some CIF sections have their own Open Division brackets.

When this is the case, the champions of those sectional playoffs become automatically eligible to be chosen for the state Open Division. The three sections that have their own Open Divisions are Central Coast, San Diego, and L.A. City.

5. Open Division teams can come from any bracket from any section playoff in the state.

Last year's NorCal Open Division had the North Coast Section winners from the D2 and D3 playoffs, but not the NCS D1 champion.

6. Every section does not have to be represented in Open.

The CIF is not bound by rule to choose teams from each section for the Open Division playoffs. The L.A. City Section, San Francisco Section, Oakland Section, and Northern Section didn't have teams in the Open Division last year.

7. If a section cannot fill its allotment of regional playoff berths, the tournament committee can add a team from another section to make up the difference.

CIF officials quote this rule a lot, but in practice there has yet to be an example in which the tournament committee has substituted a fifth CIF Southern Section team or a fifth team from any section into an Open Division. We'll mention this here again as a possibility, but in looking over this year's field of girls volleyball teams the odds of a fifth team from the CCS in the north or a fifth team from the Southern Section in the south seems remote.

8. The CIF doesn't have to choose eight teams from the north and eight teams from the south for the Open Division.

But typically, it does.

9. Competitive equity also will be used to seed this year's teams in both the Open Division and in all other CIF divisions.

This means that if a team such as Campolindo of Moraga in the CIF North Coast Section, for example, were to win the NCS D2 title that the Cougars definitely could be placed into the NorCal D1 bracket. That would be based on that program's success over the years in various divisions and on being an Open Division team just last year. In other words, the division numbers from the section level in many cases this year are not going to match state divisions.

Watch the CIF NorCal and SoCal Open Division Regional Championships live on FloVolleyball, November 25, 2017.

Watch the CIF State Championships live on FloVolleyball, December 1-2, 2017.

By Mark Tennis