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By Greg Johnson
The NCAA Women’s Volleyball Rules Committee recommended at its annual meeting Jan. 18-20 that either the libero or her teammates must wear a solid-colored jersey starting in 2013. The libero’s shirt or jersey must be in clear contrast to the other members of the team.
The Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which meets during a conference call in April, must approve playing-rules recommendations before they can be implemented.
Committee members made the recommendation because they believe many of the multi-colored uniforms being worn today make it harder for officials to locate the libero, who is a defensive specialist that must remain in the back row. The position, which is not subject to substitution limits, was added to NCAA competition in 2002.
“This is to allow for an easier delineation for officials,” said committee chair Fran Flory. “They are having trouble distinguishing liberos from other players because the uniforms are so similar.”
The delay in implementation until 2013 is to provide institutions with advance notice of the rule before purchasing uniforms in the future.
“Schools don’t buy new uniforms every year,” said Flory, who is the coach at LSU. “We didn’t want to institute it too early in the cycle of teams buying new uniforms. This way, they won’t have to double their costs on uniforms. We want to give everyone time to adjust before the rule is instituted.”
Committee members also recommended a change in the sequence of signals by the referee after a point is scored. If approved by PROP, the proposal, which would go into effect in 2012, requires the referee to first signal which team is serving next, then signal the nature of the call. This sequence is being used in USA Volleyball and international volleyball matches.
“The rationale is to have seamless communication for the scorekeepers and statisticians,” Flory said. “This way, we can get the ball moving to the team that is going to serve. The scorekeeper can also record the information they need quicker, because they don’t care what the fault was, they just care what the result was. We are getting that information first to facilitate all those things that have to happen.”
The committee is also examining health and safety issues in the sport with regard to the different net systems that are being used around the country. Institutions are using various in-ground systems, counter-weight systems and even some suspended-net systems that swing down from the ceiling.
With the new pursuit rule going into effect last season (whereby a player can cross the net to play a ball on the other side of the court that went outside the antenna), the committee wants the playing area to remain as safe as possible.
Along those lines, the committee is emphasizing the need for a barrier between the playing area and fan area.