Volleyball is a game played by two competing teams of six players. A net separates the teams in the middle of the court.  Each team endeavors to score points by pushing a ball over the net and landing it on its opponent’s side.

What are Volleyball’s Rules?

The official volleyball court’s measurement is 18 m × 9 m (59.05 ft x 29.52 ft). The standard men’s volleyball net height is 2.43 meters (7 ft, 11 ⅝  in), while it is 2.24 m (7 ft, 4 ⅛ in) for the women’s category.

The game starts with a team’s serve. The server can serve from any point behind the end line. The said player can use overarm or underarm serve to bring the ball into the opposing team’s side of the court.

The opposing team receives the ball with a maximum of three touches as they send it back over the net. Players are not allowed to touch the ball twice in a row.  But they could hit the ball on the first and third contact.

In volleyball, the ball must not be caught.  It must be hit. The serving team scores a point when their opponents fail to return the ball over the net, push it out of bounds, or commit an infraction. Whichever team gets the point wins the turn to serve.

The players rotate their position on the court clockwise whenever a team wins the serve. This way, everyone gets a chance to serve and to play the different functions such as setter, hitter, or blocker.

Scoring in Volleyball

In recent years, volleyball rules have changed in how to score points. In 1998, the international federation started to implement a rally point system. It allows both teams to score a point during a rally, regardless of which team served.

Teams in competitive adult matches play to a best of five sets. The number of set points sets volleyball apart from most sports. In volleyball, the first four sets comprise 25 points to play. Should the match go to a fifth set, it is only played to 15 points.

To win a set, a team must win by a two-point advantage. There is no ceiling to a game. If a two-point clear is not obtained, the game could go on forever!

Who are the Officiating Crew in Volleyball?

As in most sports, volleyball requires officials to facilitate the game’s flow and enforce the rules. Volleyball officials comprising the first referee, second referee, scorekeeper, assistant scorer, and two-line judges are required to umpire an official volleyball game. Their responsibilities are as follows:

First or Main Referee

Similar to most sports, the main referee upholds the rules throughout the entirety of the game. Also known as the first referee, he holds authority over all the other officiating crew members. He meets with them before the match and goes over each official’s responsibilities.  Also, he discusses protocols with the second referee to ensure that the game runs seamlessly.

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Before the match starts, the primary referee checks and inspects the equipment and all the players’ uniforms. Also under his jurisdiction are the warm-ups and the coin toss. The first referee’s position is on the referee stand. He controls the play of the whole game, making calls on faults and scoring issues.  

This official determines the call when problems arise during the game and makes the final decision. When he makes a call, no player or other officiating crew can argue the call. Nonetheless, a team can place a formal protest with the scorer. After the match, the first referee notes the score and signs the official paperwork.

Second Referee

Before the match begins, the second referee should have established a good rapport with both the scorekeeper and the assistant scorekeeper (libero tracker). If these two need help, they should be comfortable approaching the second referee.

During the match, the second referee stands opposite the first referee. He works to assist the main referee throughout the game. Specifically, he is responsible for all substitutions, timeouts, and the activities of the scorer’s table. If the first referee cannot finish his duties, the second referee takes his place.


The scorekeeper keeps track of the score throughout the game. It is his job to ensure that the score is always correct. He utilizes a score sheet to keep track of the game.  In it, he writes the pre-match information, such as team names, starting lineups, and the players’ names.

Suppose there is a discrepancy between the score on the score sheet and the scoreboard (flip score or electronic scoreboard). In that case, the scoreboard should be modified according to the score on the scoresheet unless the mistake is identified and corrected. The second referee assists the scorekeeper by checking the accuracy of the scoresheet at the end of each set.

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Throughout the match, the scorekeeper records the points as they happen. Closely, he watches the servers and calls out the referees’ attention when he deems that a server has served out of order.  He also watches each team’s rotation to aid the second referee in determining the correct team alignment.

The scorekeeper also must record the player substitutions, team timeouts, any sanctions incurred, and all other events that are pertinent and instructed by the referees.  At the end of each set, he puts on paper the final result of the set.  After the match, he does the same and signs the official score sheet.

When disputes and other irregularities regarding the score occur, the scorer uses a buzzer to notify the first and second referees. He does the same with a substitution request to inform the referees.

Sometimes, teams place a protest on the score. In these cases, after the first referee gives authorization, the scorekeeper allows the game captain to write a statement for the protest on the scoresheet.

Assistant Scorer

The assistant scorer (or libero tracker) stays at the scorer’s table next to the scorekeeper. He chronicles libero replacements onto a libero tracking sheet. Furthermore, he notifies the other officials of any fault with libero replacements. 

He has to operate the manual scoreboard on the scorer’s table. Frequently, he checks the score on the scoreboard with the score on the scoresheet to ensure they match.

Line Judges

The two line judges stand at the corner of the endline closest to each referee’s right hand. They watch the endline and sideline of their respective corners.

Four line judges are used for Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) matches and other official competitions. Each line judge is positioned at the corners of the court to watch the lines. They monitor whether a ball in play falls in or out of the court.

The line judge’s main charge is to make signals to aid the referees in making judgment calls. They are usually instructed to use flags to make the signals clear.

Using a flag, the line judge notifies the referees if a server steps on the line during a serve, when a player touches an out-of-play ball, or if the ball hits an antenna.

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Officials wear uniforms and whistles on lanyards to recognize their authority in a volleyball match. Referees may hand out penalty cards to players, and line judges hold linesman flags to help them make clear signals.

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