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October 20, 2010 - Michael Palmer
It may surprise many readers that volleyball is a sport that ranks only behind soccer world wide in participation.

Volleyball does not receive the wide spread media coverage that other sports enjoy, therefore many spectators are unfamiliar with the rules. Even parents of players sometimes are not certain as to what is happening on the court or why their daughters are stomping, clapping, shouting and then meeting mid-court for group hugs.

I have been designated as the volleyball correspondent this season, mostly because I have the lens and the knowledge of photography to pull off the photos - without use of a flash. NOTE: A flash is allowed during regular season if the home team does not restrict it’s use. During tournaments however, a flash is forbidden by rule.

While some of the local high school action is not fast paced and exciting, there are some local teams where you can watch a good setter command an attack with decoy hitters jumping to the net and then a huge hit from the middle drives down at 100 mph and a diving player on the other side of the net somehow manages to get underneath the meteor and it pops back up into play.

Watching this elite brand of volleyball can be interesting and enjoyable.

Locally there are a couple of teams that can play at this level. There are some showcase squads playing in sectionals that also could be worth a short drive north. Harrison Central fans will get the opportunity see volleyball at a state championship level this Saturday when the Lady Huskies meet Tusky Valley in the Claymont Division III Sectionals.

The Trojans are undefeated at 23-0 and play like a collegiate team. They recently defeated Tuscarawas County rival Tuscarawas Central Catholic (20-1) 25-20, 25-17 in a triangular at Coshocton.

My daughter is a JV coach for Conotton Valley and they have the TCC Saints this Thursday in the Dover Division IV Sectionals.

Here are some basic rules for the game as a primer.

The Game

Volleyball is a game played by 2 teams of 6 players each on a rectangular court separated into 2 areas by a net. One team serves the ball over the net, trying to make it land within the opponent's playing area. The receiving team tries to return the ball back over the net and make it land within the opponent's playing area. Each team is allowed 3 offensive contacts with the ball before it must pass over the net. One player may hit the ball twice as long as the hits are not consecutive. If a team hits the ball four times, play is stopped. In 2004 Federation Rules established rally scoring, where a point is scored by the team winning the rally regardless of who served. A point is awarded the serving team when the opponent violates a rule, the ball is hit out of bounds or the ball lands in their playing area. If the serving team violates a rule or the ball lands in their playing area a point is earned by the receiving team and the ball is awarded to that team as well. Play starts with the official blowing the whistle and does not end until a whistle is sounded. The game is won by the team who reaches 25 points first with at least a 2 point advantage over the opponent. The match will consist of the best three-out-of-five games to 25. If a fifth game is required to break a tie, that game is played to 15 points after a coin flip to determine serve and side. (Option, 2 out of 3 matches for triangular meets)

Some Basic Rules


The server must wait for the referee to blow the whistle and signal before serving and has 5 seconds to serve or delay of serve will be called. The server must stand between the service lines (anywhere behind the back line) and may not step into the court or line violation is called. The ball must cross the net between the two antennas to be good. The ball is allowed to touch the net on the way over. If the server tosses the ball in the air and allows the ball to fall to the ground or catches the ball, the referee will signal a re-serve and the server has one more chance to serve. If the ball touches the server and hits the ground a point and the ball are awarded to the other team.

Ball Handling

Of all the rules in volleyball, this area is probably the most misunderstood. In general the ball is allowed to touch any part of a player above the waist. How long can the ball rest when it makes contact? Regardless of the technique used to make contact with the ball, it is the length of time the ball is in contact with the player that determines an illegal hit. The referee on the stand is the official with the responsibility to call ball handling errors. Double contact with the ball is allowed on any first ball over the net (even with finger action) as long as it is one single attempt to hit the ball.

1. Passing is the technique of allowing the ball to bounce off the forearms as though they were a solid board. If the player does not rebound the ball off his or her forearms quickly and it remains in contact too long, the referee will call an illegal hit.

2. Setting is the technique of letting the ball momentarily touch the fleshy part of the fingertips and reverse the direction so it is set back into the air for another player to hit. If the setter allows the ball to come to rest too long, an illegal hit will be called. The ball must be set in one smooth continuous motion and not make contact with the palms. If the ball does not hit both hands simultaneously, it is a double hit violation except for any first ball over the net.

3. Spiking is the technique of forcefully hitting the ball into the opponent's court with one hand. Usually the ball makes contact with the heel of the hand and the finger tips almost simultaneously.

4. Dinking or tipping is the technique of softly directing the ball over the net with one hand. Any prolonged contact or change of direction will be called an illegal hit.

5. Double contact on any first ball over the net is legal, even with finger action. (A spinning ball is not necessarily illegal. Referees are instructed to only call a double hit when they see two distinct contacts made.)


Blocking is the technique of preventing the opponent's ball from coming on your side of the net. It is legal for a blocker to reach over the net on a block and angle his or her arms so that when the ball hits his or her open hands the ball will be deflected back into the opponent's court. Each team has a right to use all three of their hits before sending the ball over the net. A blocker may always block the third hit or any other ball that is directed towards his or her court. If the blocker interferes with the opponent's right to play the ball, over the net is called. Once a ball hits a blocker's hands, the teams have 3 offensive contacts with the ball in order to get it over the net.

Example 1: If team A spikes the ball on their third hit and it touches a blocker on the way over the net, team B will be allowed to make three more contacts to get the ball over the net, since a block is not counted as one of the teams three hits.

Example 2: If team A spikes the ball on their third hit and the blocker prevents the ball from crossing the net, team A now has an additional 3 contacts to get the ball over the net.

Center Line Violation

There is a two inch line that separates one court from the other under the net. A player is allowed to step on or touch this line with his or her hand and even extend over the line. It becomes a center line foul when the player's foot or hand is completely over the line or any other part of their body is touching the floor on the other side of the line. A player may step over the center line extension as long as no contact is made with the opponents playing area and no interference with the opponent occurs. (Some rules allow contact of the opponents side under the net as long a there is not interference.)

Net Violations

A net foul is called if a player touches any part of the net, net cables, or the antennas. If the player's hair hits the net or if the ball causes the net to hit the player it is not a foul.

Back Row Attack

A back row player may legally attack the ball from anywhere behind the 10 foot attack line. If the back row player is in front of the 10 foot attack line, the player may not send the ball over the net if the ball is completely above the net at the time of contact.


Each team is allowed to substitute players during any dead ball. Each team is allowed a total of 18 subs per game with no individual limit. A coach does not have to call for a substitution. If a player from the bench enters the substitution zone, this is considered a legal request for substitution. Once a player enters the game for another player, that player may only return to the game in that same position. A coach may substitute as many players as he/she would like during each substitution request.


The libero is a specialized defensive player that may enter the game for any back row player. The libero wears a contrasting jersey to teammates, may not attack a ball that is above the height of the net, block, or overhand set the ball to an attacker while in front of the 10' line. Once designated as the libero a team may not have a different libero until the next game accept in the case of an injury to the libero. The libero and the person they are replacing must make their exchange during a dead ball between the 10' line and the serving line (not thru the end line). This exchange is not considered a team substitution The Libero is an optional role and is used at the discretion of the coach. (New in 07-08, the libero is allowed to serve in one position. A coach does not have to take advantage of this option.)

There, now if someone else who knows more about volleyball who can explain the rotation and why the girls stand in certain places and swap positions like a square dance is going on as soon as the ball is served, you know pretty much everything you need to know to watch volleyball.


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