Playing upon a court that measures 18 meters by 9 meters with a net separating the two sides, the net must have a clearance height of 7 meters for indoor courts and an attack line that’s set 3 meters on both sides of the net. The six players rotate with each new serve as the team gains the ball or when the other team gains possession, losing the point for that rally. The rotation is in a clockwise manner. The ball must face regulations, much like the court, with a spherical ball made from leather of real or synthetic material.
A coin toss is used to determine the first team to serve the ball with each team consisting of six players. The serving player wants to volley the ball over the net, causing the ball to land in the other team’s court. With the ball on the opponent’s side, they must work to get it back over the net within three strikes or lose the point. The three strikes are usually set up with a bump towards the setter with the next strike aimed towards the attacker, who then spikes the ball over the net back to the serving team. The offensive team is the one that holds the ball and aims the ball towards the other team’s court while they play defense to prevent the spike that brings the ball back to them. If the ball is placed into the other team’s court, that team gains the offensive position as they make a dig attempt.
The game continues in its rally as the ball volleys back and forth until one team fails to keep the ball in play within the boundaries or fail to return the ball to the other team. If an error is made, the point is lost to that team and the next serve will begin with a rotation of the serving team. Some common errors include one player touching the ball twice in a row, a catch of the ball, a touch of the net, or going under the net to keep the ball on the opposite team’s court. With the rules of this sport, there are several other errors that can occur while the ball is in play, such as incorrect positioning, players spiking the ball or blocking in the wrong position, and even gaining support from another player to touch the ball.
Points are awarded through a series of errors made by the other team or if the ball connects with the floor within the boundaries of the court. As long as the ball hits the line without going over, the ball is still considered in and the point is awarded to the team on the opposite side. When the point is awarded, the team with that point gains possession of the next serve. This continues until the one team reaches 25 points with a two point lead with matches played to the best of five sets. Prior to 1999, the scoring system was set for the serving team gaining the point with a maximum reach of 15 points to win the game. After 1999, this converted to a rally point system as we’ve seen it today because it makes the game easier to follow on television and for spectators at the match itself.
In 1998, there was a new player introduced to the game, known as the libero, which is a player that comes with specialized skills for the defense. With a contrasting uniform, the libero has the ability to substitute another player on the court without notice to the officials in the backrow. While a libero can be used for offense in some aspects, they are mostly skilled in the defense of the court against the opposing team. They are limited in their capacity as well within the team as they can’t set a ball or serve a ball except in certain conditions.
There are six skills that must be mastered in order to compete in this sport: serve, pass, set, attack, block, and dig. The serve is one of the most important since it sets up the ball as it lands on the opposite team’s court based on a certain trajectory in the hopes of unbalancing the receiver. The pass is the first strike of the ball as a player attempts to handle the serve to get the ball back over the net and keep the ball from connecting with the court. The set, the second strike of the ball, places the ball in such a way that the attacker can send the ball into the opponent’s court. The attack, the final strike of the ball, is also called a spike, which is a move that places the ball in the opponent’s court in the hopes that the ball makes contact with the court without a defensive block from the opposing team. The block is completed by the opposing team’s players to keep the ball from reaching their court either by stopping the ball at the net or through an alteration of the attacker’s spike. The final skill is the dig, which keeps the ball from striking the court on one’s side after the attack has succeeded and the block has failed. The dig highly resembles the pass as it sets the ball back up for the set and attack.
With the mastery of the skills and the coordination of a team, that team can find themselves working in perfect harmony as they work to keep the ball from landing on their court while volleying the ball back and forth between that team and the opposing one. Multiple systems are used in helping a team coordinate their attacks and defenses in relation to the ball and the other team’s playing method.