VOLLEYBALL Victoria has admitted Western Phantoms received a raw deal in the Victorian Volleyball League fixtures with the club's reserves and division two women playing fewer games than the rest of the competition.
Both teams were in the hunt for finals positions in the second half of the season but neither qualified.
The Phantoms' reserves women played 12 matches while the rest of the division played 14, and the division two women played 10 matches compared with 13 for the rest of the competition.
The club's reserves women finished sixth out of 10 teams but played teams above them on the ladder seven times compared with five against lower-ranked sides.
The division two women also finished in the middle of the table and played five matches against higher-ranked opponents and five against lower-ranked teams.
Due to the disparity in matches played, ladders in both divisions were ranked by match-point ratios rather than wins.
Volleyball Victoria general manager Mariela Pena said the club was the victim of a fixture mistake by the Victorian Volleyball League.
"Because the fixture isn't done at the start of the season it's done in stages somewhere along the line something didn't sit right," she said.
"After so many games you can't fix a fixture and it becomes uneven.
"Probably about a month and a half ago we spoke to Western Phantoms head coach David Berry and he brought it to our attention.
"We tried to find a solution to it but we couldn't."
Berry said the club was extremely disappointed the problem was not identified and addressed earlier by Volleyball Victoria.
He said the players from both teams felt let down by the league.
"Volleyball Victoria really has not looked after us at all this year," he said.
"The whole club is not happy and they've let the club down and let the players down badly."
Berry said the fixture problem was never adequately explained to the club.
Pena said Volleyball Victoria deeply regretted the Phantoms' situation and would strive to ensure the problem never happened again.
She said part of the scheduling error was possibly due to several Melbourne-based teams not being able to make the four-hour journey to Horsham.
"We want to take care of our regional associations because they're doing the right thing by us by participating in our volleyball league," she said.
"Everybody pays the same amount of affiliation fees and there's a certain expectation of service level.
"For us this year they didn't correlate, so we need to make sure that in future, Western Phantoms aren't put out.
"It's a little too late at this time of the season but we can make sure we get it right for next season so that these guys aren't put out and have a good year and enjoy what they do."