Matawan-Aberdeen Recreation Volleyball League


We play using the current USAV rules, rally-scoring format. Exceptions are noted below under "General and Miscellaneous House Rules". The following is an excerpt of the rules. Please refer to the USAV website for the complete rules.

1. Penalty for a team committing a fault (Loss of Rally)

1.1     Serving Team – loss of point and loss of serve (side out)

1.2     Receiving Team – loss of point

2. Service

2.1. Service commences each play. The HEAD referee has the responsibility to begin play in a timely fashion by signaling for service with a whistle. Prior to the whistle, the head ref. should check to see that both the serving and receiving team are ready. If, in the JUDGMENT of the head ref, a team purposely delays the game beyond a reasonable time, a warning should be issued to the offending team. A second violation should result in a charged time out against the offending team. If the offending team is out of timeouts, then a loss of rally results.

2.2. The server has 8 seconds to release or toss the ball for service after the head ref has whistled the start of play. If, in the JUDGMENT of the head ref, the server purposely delays the game and fails to serve the ball after the whistle has blown and the referee has requested the server to serve, the referee should penalize the serving team with a loss of rally.

2.3. A service executed before the referee's whistle is cancelled and repeated. A second occurrence during the same term of service, results in a loss of rally.

2.4. Foot Faults - We do not have the required 8 foot of space behind the service line so we make some minor adjustments:

     2.4.1  Standing serves - the server must contact the ball with both feet in contact with the floor behind the service line. In the act of serving, you cannot touch the service line with your feet.

     2.4.2 Jump serves - at least one foot of the server must be in contact with the floor behind the service line during the ball toss. After the ball toss, contact of the ball must be made while the server is in mid-air (no body contact with the floor) and the server may then land inside the court after contacting the ball.

2.5. The server may put the ball into play anywhere between the right and left sideline and from behind the service line (or the acceptable limit, see section 2.4 above).

2.6. The server must clearly release or throw the ball before contact. You cannot hit the ball out of the hand holding the ball. A first release violation should result in a warning. Subsequent release violations result in loss of rally.

2.7. After the service whistle has blown and a player tosses or releases a ball for service, the ball MUST be struck for service. There is no reserve rule anymore. Only one attempt is allowed.

2.8. Service Criteria: Ball MUST pass OVER the net and between the antenna. The ball must not contact the antenna, the ceiling (or anything considered to be part of the ceiling), travel outside of antenna, or land outside of the opponents court area. If the serve contacts the net between the antenna and goes over the net into the opponents court, the play is considered legal and play continues. (Let serves are good!)

2.9. Service Rotation - The rotation or order of players on the court must conform to the service order as set by the captain before the start of the game, at the time of service. Prior to service, no player may overlap his adjacent teammate's position, either front to back or side to side.

   2.9.1 Overlap - Front row players (looking towards the opponents court) occupying positions 2 (right front), 3 (middle front) or 4 (left front) must be closer to the net then his/her corresponding back row player in positions 1 (right rear - server), 6 (middle back), or 5 (left back) player. The front to back pairings are: 2&1, 3&6,  4&5.  In the front row player 3 cannot be closer to the sideline then players 2 or 4 and in the back row player 6 cannot be closer to the sideline then players 1 or 5.   A players position/overlap is determined by the position of their feet in contact with the floor at the time of service. Players may change from their service order only after the server contacts the ball. Service order must remain the same until the game is completed. The only exception is injury substitution and positional substitution (also, see "Substitution Rules" below). Overlap is a violation of the service rotation. Violation of this rule results in a loss of rally for the offending team.

2.10. All players (except the server - who is to be within the service area; see 2.4 & 2.5) must be fully within the court during service.

3. Playing the Ball

3.1. A maximum of 3 consecutive team contacts of the ball is allowed, except, when a block is the first contact. If a ball contacts a block and the ball remains playable on the side of the blocking team, the blocking team will be entitled to three more contacts after the initial blocking contact. The next contact after the block is considered the 1st team contact and follows the rules in 3.2.

3.2. Multiple contacts are legal during blocking and during a single attempt to make the first team play of a ball coming from the opponents, even off a block. At any other time, multiple contacts are a fault (double hit). The penalty is a loss of rally for the offending team.

3.3. Held Ball (AKA carry) - When the ball visibly comes to rest in the hands or arms of a player. Scooping, lifting, pushing, and throwing are also forms of a carry and result in a fault. The penalty is a loss of rally for the offending team.

3.4. A "held" ball between two opposing players at the net (i.e. a joust) is no longer a dead ball. The ball remains in play and may be contacted 3 more times by the team on the side on which the ball drops (similar to a block).

3.5. The ball may touch any part of the body.

4. Play at the net

4.1. All net contact in between the antennae while playing the ball will be considered a fault. If two opposing players directly engaged in playing the ball (IE a hitter & a blocker) contact the net simultaneously, a double fault results and replay is directed. A ball driven into the net by an attacker and then contacted by the opponent through the net, is not a fault. See FIVB video for examples:

4.2. Crossing the centerline - To touch the opponent's court with a foot (feet) is permitted, provided that some part of the penetrating foot (feet) remain either in contact with or directly above the centerline; if the foot (feet) cross completely into the opponents court it is a fault. Any other part of the body may touch the opponents court so long as this action does not interfere with the opponents ability to play the ball. [NOTE: For safety sake and to avoid serious injury, this is not a license to encroach into the opponents court. Players must know this is not tackle football. We expect players to be in control and to refrain from entering the opponents court.] A fault occurs if a player interferes (through contact) with an opponents ability to legally play the ball.

4.3. Ball in the Vertical Plane of the Net - A ball that has penetrated the vertical plane of the net may be played by either team.

4.4. Players are not allowed to attack the ball on the opponent’s side of the net.

4.5. Players are allowed to break the plane of the net over the opponent’s court, while in the process of blocking or completing an attack hit. They cannot interfere with the opponent’s opportunity to play the ball in the opponent’s court though. Blocking is the process of rejecting a ball back into the opponent’s court, after an opponent’s offensive attempt to direct the ball into the blockers court.

4.6. Back row players are not allowed to block. In addition, back row players are not allowed to play the ball into the opponents court while in front of the 10 foot line and from above the top of the net, unless they contact the ball while they are in mid-air, having jumped from behind the 10 foot line.

4.7. Balls that contact the net outside of the antenna or the net standards result in a loss of rally for the offending team.

5. General and Miscellaneous House rules

5.1. The sidelines and back lines of the court are considered extensions of the court. Therefore, a ball that contacts these lines is considered to be within the court. Conversely, any ball that falls outside of the court markings is out.

5.2. A dead ball should be ruled if the ball touches the antenna or the net outside the antenna.

5.3. Balls that contact objects (lights, beams, vents, etc.) above the teams playing surface may be played by the team causing the contact, provided the ball remains in the teams court and the team has not exceeded it's legal limit for team contacts.

5.4. Balls contacting objects above a team’s court and rebounding into the opponent’s court become dead and a loss of rally is assessed to the offending team.

5.5. A dead ball results when the ball contacts any of the sidewalls. Penalty is loss of rally for the offending team.

5.6. Rear backboards (the backboards immediately above the service line)

   5.6.1 If during the act of playing a ball, a ball contacts the rear backboard and the team playing the ball still has legal contacts remaining, they can play the ball off the backboard. There is no interference and no replay occurs.

    5.6.2 Any area above the backboard (ie. backboard supports) is considered part of the ceiling and is also in play.

5.7. A ball contacting the backboard above the head ref should be replayed if, in the JUDGMENT of the head ref, a player was present, in position and a legal play could have been made had the backboard not interfered. A dead ball should be ruled if the backboard prevents a ball from going out of bounds and no legal play could have been made. A dead ball should be ruled for any ball hitting the backboard on its way into the opponent’s court that could not legally cross above the net and between the antennas. A dead ball and loss of rally results when a served ball contacts the backboard.

5.8. If the ball is played in the vicinity of the rear end bleachers, at least one foot must be in contact with the gym floor at the time the ball is played.

5.9. Players must not penetrate the adjacent court before, during, or after playing the ball. The criteria is the same as the "centerline rule" in 4.2 for B1 and for B2 players cannot touch the line between the courts. A player may pass under the net provided that the player does not contact the opponent's court or interfere with any player on the opponent's side ability to play a ball. The result of interference is loss of rally by the offending team.

5.10. Interruptions of play - As soon as the referees notice an injured player or foreign object on the court (i.e. a loose ball) that could create a hazard to a player(s), play will be stopped and a replay directed. A replay should not be directed if, for example, a loose ball occurs away from the play and simultaneously with the completion of play, and in the JUDGMENT of the referee, the result of the play was unaffected by the loose ball.

5.11. Two time outs per team per game. Each time shall be no more than 30 secs. When a time out is called, both teams are entitled to the FULL 30 seconds.

5.12. Substitution Rules - No player shall sit out more than 1 full game or the equivalent of one game per evening. Exceptions to this rule will be tolerated only if a team is in compliance with the rules as stated in the "official rules" for rotation/substitution, and NO player(s) on that team object to the inequitable distribution of playing time. If a rotation consisting of all players present at a match is not utilized, in-match substitutions must be pair wise. Once player A is substituted for player B, only player B can be substituted back for player A (except in the case of injury). Players A and B may switch an unlimited number of times, but again, captains are encouraged to give all players equal time on the court. Unlimited Subs!

5.13. Teams automatically forfeit a game if they have less than 4 regular members. Teams may play a game with only four -or- may obtain one substitute if they have four or five members. This substitute should be drawn from the pool of floaters. The floater system may also be used to balance out the number of players per team, to maximize playing time. The volunteers will designate floaters to teams, as appropriate.

5.14. Player misconduct - If any player(s) is unacceptably rude (yelling to refs or other players), acts violently (creates a danger to other players well being or the facility), or behaves in any other manner deemed inappropriate during a game, the head referee (or a Volunteer) will issue the offending player(s) a warning. If the behavior persists a point or side out will be awarded to the opposing team. Continued mis-conduct will not be tolerated and will result in the dismissal of the player(s) from the game. The volunteers reserve the right to expel any player(s) who demonstrates disregard for the rules set forth here (also see code of conduct).

5.15. A copy of this guide will be kept in the equipment bag and also at the back of each of the scoring books for reference. For situations not covered within this guide, the official rulebook applies. Everyone should attempt to familiarize him/herself with the rules.


** Much of the material for this guide has been re-written from the "2003 United States Volleyball Official Rules". The material presented here is intended as an overview and no attempt has been made to describe each rule in complete detail. For further information, please refer to the rulebook. [Revised 9/17/2016 - MAM]

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