The USA Volleyball Rules of the Game Commission met in February 1999 and adopted several major rule changes that will have a noticeable effect on the game as well as tournament organization and planning. The following are a list of the significant changes in the scoring system, substitution numbers and procedure, sanction rules and procedure, and referee signal techniques. In addition, the commitment to move toward the FIVB system of scorekeeping has been made, and there will be some movement along that line in 1999. The United States Rules are required to use the FIVB rules as a basis, and these changes reflect that requirement.

These rule changes will be in effect for the 1999-2000 season of USA Volleyball competition, commencing November 1, 1999. However, the entire FIVB rule set, with some safety modifications, will be in effect for the US Open Tournaments at the 1999 USA Volleyball Open Championships in San Jose, Calif., May 31-June 3.

The change in the scoring system to all rally scoring will enable tournament organizers to better project match-time requirements since the average time of each set and match will be more predictable. The substitution systems will allow greater participation in the game by more players. The reconstructed sanction system and procedure is designed to allow referees to better control real misconduct in the matches while allowing participants to express their natural feelings as each rally terminates with a winner and a loser.

All questions and comments should be forwarded to Tom Blue, USA Volleyball Rule Interpreter, at (540) 345-2411 or

1999-2000 RULE CHANGES

Scoring System

Rule 7 is amended to reflect the change to all rally scoring. The best of three or best of five games will win matches. Each non-deciding game will be won by the team that first scores 25 points with a minimum two-point advantage (no scoring cap). If there is a deciding game, it will be won by the team that first scores 15 points with a minimum two-point advantage (no scoring cap). Point will be scored on each rally. If the receiving team wins the rally, they score a point and gain the serve.

Substitution System

Rule 11.3 is amended to reflect the use of the Libero Defensive Player in the United States Rules. These rules will be in effect for the 1999 USA Volleyball Open Championships, Open Division and, beginning November 1999, for any USA Volleyball Open competition. Any team participating in Open Competition has the option to register a Libero player on its roster. Regular substitutions remain limited to six team subs and one individual entry per player.

Only one Libero will be allowed per team. There are special rules if the Libero player is injured and cannot continue. The Libero player's number must be placed on the line-up sheet for the first game of each match, in addition to the numbers for the starting six players. The Libero player must wear a uniform of a different and contrasting color and/or design than that of the rest of the team in order to be readily recognized on the court.

Libero Playing Actions: The Libero may replace any player in a back row position. The Libero may not serve, block or attempt to block. The Libero may not complete an attack-hit from anywhere if at the moment of contact the ball is entirely higher than the top of the net. A teammate may not complete an attack-hit on a ball coming from an overhead pass using the fingers by the Libero if the Libero sets while in the front zone. The ball may be freely attacked if the Libero makes the same set from behind the front zone.

Libero Replacements: When the Libero replaces a player in the back zone, it is not counted as a substitution. These replacements are unlimited. Only the player whom he/she replaced may replace the Libero. After the Libero is replaced, he/she must stay out one rally before replacing another player in the back zone. Replacements may take place: 1) at the start of the game after the 2nd referee has checked the line-up and 2) while the ball is out of play before the 1st referee blows the whistle for service.

United States Rules - Modified governs play in all USA Volleyball competition other than Open Competition. Rule 11.2.2 of United States Rules - Modified is amended to allow teams to use a maximum of fifteen team substitutions in each game, and unlimited individual entries within those fifteen team subs. Rule 11.2.2 changed to restrict each rotation position to one starter and one substitute.

The Serve

Last year, Rule 17 changed to allow only one toss or release of the ball for service. This year, the rule is further amended to allow eight seconds to complete the service. The service tossing error rule continues to be in effect for Junior Competition of 14-and-under divisions and Regionally designated developmental divisions.


Rule 24 is amended to state that "minor misconduct" offenses are not subject to sanction. Only when a team member's behavior reaches the level of "rude conduct" will sanctions be applied. Oral and/or hand signal warnings by the first referee will advise the team when a member's behavior is approaching this level. Warnings will not be recorded on the score sheet. If a penalty is assessed, the signal will be a Yellow card. A Red card, for repeated rude behavior or the first instance of offensive conduct, will signal expulsion. Yellow and Red cards held together will signal disqualification for repeated offensive conduct or for aggression.

Referee Signals

Rule 25 is amended to reflect the change in sequence of referee signals. After a referee blows the whistle to end a rally, the referee will indicate the following with hand signals:

If the first referee whistles the fault, he/she will indicate: 1) the team that will serve next; then 2) the nature of the fault that ended the rally; then 3) the player at fault, if necessary. The second referee will repeat the first referee's hand signals

If the second referee whistles the fault, he/she will indicate: 1) the nature of the fault, then 2) the player at fault, if necessary, then 3) following the first referee's hand signal, the team that will serve next.

In this case, the first referee will not show the fault or the player at fault.

In the case of a double fault, either referee will indicate: 1) the nature of the faults. then 2) the players at fault, if necessary, then 3) the team that will serve next, as shown by the first referee's hand signal repeated by the second referee.

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