Elite 16 Tie Breaker Rules

Today pool play is wrapping up in Ostrava and the top two teams per pool will advance to the knockout stage. Teams are put into order based on match points earned in pool play. Teams get two match points for a win, one for a loss and zero for a forfeit. That sounds pretty straight forward, but when playing full pools with four teams, there are several scenarios that will leave teams with equal match records. So, who wins these ties? Don’t worry, the Beach Volley Blog has you covered with it’s latest beach volleyball explainer. Read on to learn about the Elite 16’s tie breaker rules.

Mariafe Artacho del Solar hits off Ana Patricia’s hands for a crucial point in pool B. Photo by Volleyball World.

Possible scenarios

With four teams playing three matches each, there are three possible scenarios that will leave teams with equal match records.

In the first scenario a team dominates while the other three teams exchange victories. In the second, one team gets beat up on while the other three exchange victories. This happened in women’s pool B in Ostrava. In the third scenario everyone gets at least one win and one loss. This is going to happen in women’s pool C, which is finishing up as I write.

Tie Break Rules

info graphic explaining the elite 16 tie breaker rules

In the two-way tie scenario, the top two teams are into the quarterfinals and the bottom two are out. The tie breaker is still important for placement in the knockout stage draw. Pool winners theoretically have an easier path to the finals. For the losers, all important ranking points are determined based on these tie break rules. The third place team finishes 9th in the tournament and earns 600 points while the fourth place team finishes 13th overall and only gets 460 points.

In the three-way scenario the stakes are even higher as advancement in the tournament is determined.

What is the rally points ratio?

From the graphic above, rally points ratio is the most important factor. It is the ratio of points earned vs points conceded by a team. The importance of this ratio should drive home the fact that every point really does matter. If your favorite team jumps out to a 19 – 11 lead in set one and gets a bit sloppy before closing it out for a 21-19 win, they have a rally points ratio of 21:19 or 1.105. If they had just sided out two more times for a 21-13 win, their rally points ratio for the set would have been 21:13 or 1.615. The difference between 1.105 and 1.615 is huge and if that team ends up in a tie breaker, they may regret giving away what seemed like meaningless points at the time.

Teams play between six and nine sets in their pools, and all of the points are added up to determine their total rally points ratio. In the case of a three way tie, rally points in matches between the three tied teams is the first tie breaker.

What does that mean for women’s pool B?

Head to Head of Three Tied Teams
Matches (points for across) Kravcenoka/Graudina Clancy/Mariafe Duda/Ana Patrícia
(points against down) Set 1 Set 2 Set 3 Set 1 Set 2 Set 3 Set 1 Set 2 Set 3
Kravcenoka/Graudina 21 21 23 18
Clancy/Mariafe 18 19 21 21
Duda/Ana Patrícia 25 21 16 14
Total Points
For Against Rally Points Ratio
Clancy/Mariafe 79 72 1.097
Kravcenoka/Graudina 83 83 1.000
Duda/Ana Patrícia 76 83 .916

As you can see, Duda and Ana Patricia will miss out on the knockout phase based on this tie breaker. Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Taliqua Clancy did well to finish off second set 21 – 14 in their match against Brazil and it paid off by earning them the pool B victory. Latvia’s Anastasija Kravcenoka & Tina Graudina also move on. They lost to Brazil but scored enough points in their 23-25, 18-21 loss to win this tie breaker. The Brazilians blasted Americans Sponcil and Cannon 21-18, 21-10 in their pool match, which would have been enough to qualify them if all pool matches were counted. However, the three-way tie breaker only includes matches between tied teams, so the big win didn’t help Ana Patrica and Duda’s case for advancing.