Volleyball questions

  1. Why was the rule changed to say that a serve that hits the net is OK? (This seems to do little beyond introducing an element of random luck.)

  2. Why is a “first team to 21 points wins” event known as a set, rather than a game?

If I may add another question:

I thought points could only be scored on-serve. When was that changed?

Quite some time ago. It’s called IIRC rally scoring. It speeds up the games considerably; in tight games between closely matched teams, it can be an eternity to manage 15 points with a margin of two using regular scoring.

This Wiki article says the following about the scoring rule:

The winning score was also raised from 15 to 25.

Volleyball seems to be much more willing to change major rules than other long-lived sports.

I had a question regarding the number of set points. Why do the scorekeepers keep track of the number of set points (i.e. “Set Point #1,” “Set Point #2,” etc.)?

I swear that I heard a commentator state that a team had a maximum allowable number of set points*, but I don’t see anything in the rules about this.

*During the women’s indoor gold medal match between the U.S. and Brazil, I thought I heard the commentator say something to the effect of, “That’s Set Point #1 for the U.S., with only seven allowed…”

Well, you get 7 set points if the score is 24-17. If you miss all 7, it will be tied at 24-24, and then it’s not set point again.

I think they call attention to it because if it’s your 3rd set point, that’s bad, since you can’t put them away.

I like the new rules, I remember from playing it often became tedious to score points only when you were serving.

Keep in mind that the rules for beach volleyball and indoor volleyball are quite different. I’m pretty sure that a serve can only hit the net in beach volleyball. (Maybe?) I used to be an indoor volleyball lineman, but all I did was call “in” or “out”…

I believe that serves that are “let” serves indoor are now playable. I think they changed the rule because it was almost impossible to accurately establish that a let had occurred or not without fancy electronic aids they don’t want to have to employ at lower levels of volleyball.

No, the serve can hit the net indoors as well. No blocking the serve, can’t attack from behind the 10 foot line, blah, blah, blah.

The rally scoring really keeps the game going, but momentum has more of an impact now. You get a team on the ropes, it’s hard for them to come back. First to 18 usually has it.

I play in a couple of leagues, (in the winter, when I have a life) and coach as well. Ref reluctantly.

My bad.

With plenty of players, it makes some sense to allow serves to touch the net. But in beach volleyball, there’s no way to defend against a serve that hits the net and dribbles over. Since such points are mostly a matter of luck, it would seem that they should not be allowed.

As for determining whether this happens, use the tennis trick: ref puts one hand on the top cord of the net during a serve.

They used to do that. In addition, they had these nifty antenna that wiggled. Didn’t matter; it was still too hard to be certain. Remember: a tennis ball is travelling around 100 mph when it hits the net. A Volleyball, not so much.

Of course, the volleyball weights a lot more.

If the contact with the net is so slight that it can’t reliably be noticed, the effect on the path of the ball will be insignificant. Thus, close calls that are missed would not affect the game.

I’m really glad they changed this, but it led me to another question that I couldn’t figure out throughout the Olympics: what does side out mean now? Because it used to mean earning the serve, right? They still use the term constantly; in every interview the players say “we need to work on our side outs,” or, “we just need to side out more.”

The limited meaning is as you indicate: to score a point when your opponent is serving.

Based on the commentary I heard, it seems to further relate to the idea that receiving the serve is an advantage: Unless the serve is an ace (of which there are few), proper play gives the receiving team a good chance for a kill at the net. If you get a 2- (or more) point lead late in the game and then reliably make points when receiving serve, at worst you’ll trade points, and thus you’ll win.

At the international level, yes. In the NCAA, a team needs 30 points (and two-point margin) to win a “regular” set, with 15 the threshold in the fifth set.

Xema: Terminology is confusing! The use of the term “set” instead of “game” reflects tennis’s use of “game/set/match”, but volleyball doesn’t have “games” as subsets of “sets”, just points that make up sets. The casual volleyball fan may use “game” to refer either to a set or a match (“did they win the first game?” “are you going to the game tonight?”), so “set” is clearer – except that “set” also refers to the pass the setter makes in order to set up a teammate for a kill opportunity!

Sternvogel, member of Purdue Gold Block volleyball booster club

You are right, I was surprised by this change watching the Olympics…a lucky let serve dropped directly over the net in front of the attackers who couldn’t get to it in time…I was very confused when the point went to the serving team.