Precedent setting rule interpretations by the Vice-president/Referee Manager
The league has both the 1998 Case book and the Officiating Guide
from USA Volleyball. Since our own league interpretations may deviate
from official USA Volleyball rulings, we will collect our "rule
clarifications" here and have our own "How-to Referee" guide. As
usual, all rule interpretations are subject to concurrence of the
league through discussion and voting at the preseason or postseason
general captains meetings.
A player places his hand such that a ball hitting the net then hits
his hand and deflects straight down. Without this contact, the net usually has
a trampoline effect and the ball rebounds somewhat back into the offensive
Ruling [Jay Adams, 1998 Feb 10]: The official reply from USA Volleyball is that this action
it is legal "so long as the player on the opposite side of the net from the ball
does not initiate contact with the net. There is no fault because the ball
forced the net into the player. Although there is some opinion that this is
against the spirit of play, the reasoning of the Rules of the Game Commission
was that the team receiving the ball used inferior skill by losing control of
the pass and should not benefit from their action. In addition, it is difficult
for the referee to distinguish the situation where the contact with the ball and
net is not intentional on the part of the player on the opposite side from the
Literally interpreted, there is no fault as long as the hand is not moving
toward the net at time of contact. I disagree with the general acceptance of
this practice, however, especially in that it IS readily evident that reaching
the hand toward the net to effect this play is intentional. Furthermore, I
think the burden on the referee to judge whether the hand is, or is not moving
toward the net at time of contact is beyond expectations and capabilities of our
league. Therefore, for now, I believe this action should be considered a fault.
Can a player be called for "reaching over" for contacting a ball while
in the plane of the net?
Ruling [Jay Adams, 1998 Feb 10]: Yes. "Reaching over" on an attack hit rule refers to the "point of
contact". That means part of the ball may in principle have crossed or still be
on your side of the net, if you hit the top of the ball and NOT the part that is
on your side of the net it is a "reach over".
A weakly hit "attack" is "blocked" back into the court such that the
blocker "breaks his wrist" to deflect the ball. What constitutes a block and
when does it become an attack hit? Is the action legal?
Ruling [Jay Adams, 1998 Feb 10]: An attack-hit is any ball which passes untouched beyond the vertical
plane of the net or any third team hit by the opponent. A ball may be blocked
across the net above the opponent's team area provided 1) the block is made
after the opponents have executed an attack-hit, or 2) the block is made after
the opponents have hit the ball in such a manner that the ball would, in the
referee's judgment, clearly cross the net if not touched by a player and no
member of the attacking team is in a position to make a play on the ball, or 3)
if the ball is falling near the net and no member of the attacking team could,
in the referee's judgment, make a play on the ball. Nowhere in the rules is
there suggestion that you can't deflect the ball in a direction other than
whence it came. The rules do say, however, that tipping the ball (during an
attack-hit) is permitted if the contact is "brief and the ball is not caught or
thrown." It is reasonable, therefore, that contact by the blocker be restricted
by the same standards, regardless of pace of the attack-hit. If the action of
"breaking the wrist" is followthrough after a "brief contact", the the action is
legal. If the "breaking the wrist" results in the ball being caught or thrown,
then the action is illegal.
What to do if the wrong player steps up for service, gets the
whistle to serve but does not serve but instead drops the ball.
The case book has the following two rulings.
Ruling 255 (pg. 27). Player S-6 prepares to serve, but Player S-1
notifies S-6 of the being in the wrong position. S-6 then tosses the
ball and allows it to drop to the floor. The referee directs a new
service effort and S-1 moves into the service position to serve the
Ruling [Jay Adams, 1998 Feb 10]: Legal action. The first referee will permit the
exchange to be made, but will not allow any additional time for the
exchange and will call for a second service effort immediately.
Ruling 256 (pg 27). Player S-2, a wrong server, is preparing to
serve when teammates note the error. Player S-1 moves into the
service area and S-2 moves onto the court. S-1 serves before the
expiration of the five second count.
Ruling [Jay Adams, 1998 Feb 10]: Legal play since all
action occurred before expiration of the five second count.
General basis for rulings [Jay Adams, 1998 Feb 10]: There is no wrong server until the ball has
actually been served. Pay special attention to the commentary to rule 17.5.3
which states that "after the whistle for service, no other actions (requests for
line-up check, time-out, etc.) may be considered until after the ball has been
served...A reserve is considered to be part of a single effort to serve and must
be completed before any requests may be considered"
Several questions were also raised regarding service execution. Rule 17.5.1
states that "at the moment of the service hit OR takeoff for a jump service,
the server must be completely in the service zone and not touching the court
(end line included) nor the playing surface outside the zone. After the
service, the player may step or land outside the zone including the court." The
local BNL rule states "Prior to starting his/her service motion, a player must
stand with at least one foot outside the court. The player's second foot may
contact the back line or the court as part of his/her service motion."
Ruling: [Jay Adams, 1998 Feb 10]I
interpret this as follows: a jump serve is legal as long as at least one foot
is clearly behind the endline when the server jumps. Where the server lands is
of no consequence. (I personally think this rule should be revised again, for
service next to the center curtain only, such that the trailing foot may also
contact the endline. There just isnt enough room there to allow any forward
motion on the part of the server.)
Can two male players play next to each other in mixed league play,
when the team is fielding 6 players?
Ruling: [Jay Adams, 1998 Mar 10]
No! Mixed League teams must line-up with alternating male
and female players. The only time two men are allowed to be
positioned next to each other at the time of serve is in the case
where a team only has 2 women and 3 men players. Mixed league 1
has instituted a penalty for that case. In mixed leagues 2 and 3
play proceeds without penalty side-out.
Finally, one reminder regarding underhand serves, the ball must be "clearly"
tossed or released to be legal.