By Greg Johnson
The NCAA Women’s Volleyball Rules Committee recommended a proposal where players will not be called for a violation if they touch the net, ropes or post outside of the antennae as long as it doesn’t interfere with play or is used as a means of support while playing the ball, beginning with the 2014-15 academic year.
All proposed rules changes by the committee must be approved by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which will meet via conference call in mid-February.
Committee members, who met last week in Indianapolis, entered the gathering with the overall feeling that the game is in a good place and that no major overhauls are needed for the sport.
The recommendation allowing play to continue despite a player touching the net outside of the antennae helps put NCAA women’s volleyball in line with how the game is called at other levels of volleyball around the world.
“This is one of those nuances of the game that we were able to take a look at,” said Todd Dagenais, chair of the committee and head women’s volleyball coach at Central Florida. “Other governing bodies in the sport have gone to this rule, and we think it makes sense.”
Along those lines, the committee is also recommending that the coach be allowed one exception substitution if a rally had to be stopped and replayed due to an injury to the libero. If a rally is not completed, the previous rule only allowed the coach to put the player the libero replaced back in for one completed rally. This change allows the coach the option to substitute for the libero replacement even though there was not a completed rally. Committee members also voted to increase the penalty for any coach or player who is ejected from a set. In this scenario, the coach/player will not be allowed to re-enter the match. Currently, any coach or player expelled for a set is allowed to return at the start of the next set.
The new protocol leading up to a disqualification will be as follows:
- Yellow card
- Red card (one point is added to the opposition’s score)
With player safety in mind, the committee also voted to require that any facilities built after 2016 have a minimum of three meters of free space around the court. Currently, the requirement is to have two meters of free space available.
While the committee eventually decided to take no action on the pursuit rule, it did have a sustained debate about amending or abolishing the rule all together.
Again, safety concerns for players, coaches and officials were the driving force behind the discussion. The pursuit rule, which was amended in 2010, allows players to cross under the net or net cable to retrieve the ball into the opponent’s free zone (out of bounds but past the net). The ball must be played to the outside of the antenna to a teammate for play to continue.
Some committee members are concerned about collisions that have occurred or some that have nearly happened as a reason why the rule should be taken out or amended.
Since there is no hard statistical data in place that tracks the injury rate on these types of plays, the committee is asking that it be tracked in injury surveillance data so an informed decision can be made.