It’s your first volleyball match. You got your spiffy jersey on, maybe some kneepads (turtle shell, of course) and sick Asics. Because you’re awesome, Coach puts you in the starting line up! Whoa! Don’t panic. Luckily, you aren’t serving first. No sweat. The refs approach their positions, and the score lights up. “0-0”, it reads. Wait a minute… we didn’t go over scoring in my AllStar VBPro Clinic.
I’m here to help! The scoring system in volleyball is probably one of the simpler scoring systems when it comes to competitive sports. Unlike football (+6) or basketball (+2), in volleyball, you get 1 point whenever you win a rally. What’s a rally, you say?
Here’s a scenario for you: Your teammate serves the ball (a nice volley) to the other team. They pass, set, and spike it…. but it soars way over your head and out of bounds! Your team won the rally!
Basically, a rally is the duration of play from serving to ending, until someone has to serve again. During a rally, you want to keep the ball in the air for as long as possible. Whichever team lets the ball land on their own side, or if a team cannot hit the ball within the 30×30’ square of the other team’s court, then the rally is over. You want to keep the ball off of your own side of the court and put it down on the other team’s court.
Winning a rally also occurs when a player from the other team touches the ball, and they aren’t able to send the ball back over. So, the ball doesn’t necessarily have to touch the ground. Remember, each team only gets three touches to get the ball back over (And, one player can’t hit it twice back to back. They can hit it twice in the same three-touch play, though).
Every time you win a rally, you get a point. This style of scoring is called rally scoring (cough cough). There is another style that used to be implemented in volleyball, and that is called sideout scoring. If you ever hear a team chanting “S-I-S-I-D-S-I-D-E-O-U-T, SIDEOUT” that’s what it’s from. In that style, you had to serve the ball to earn the point. Back then games were a lotttt slower, and there were many “donuts” (This is not the tasty donut, but rather when the score never gets passed 0-0! Can you imagine?! I can. I played that style and it was brutal.)
Luckily rally scoring is the norm. Most games these days play until 25 points, but in some professional matches, it is scored to 30. If you reach 25 first, you win. However, there is a caveat! If you reach 25, but the other team has 24, you don’t win right away! In fact, you have to score again to get 26, so you can win by two points. Don’t ask me why it is, but this is the way it is. Teams can go back and forth until someone wins by two, or unless the game is capped by the referee (this means that the score can only go to, say, 30. So, after 25, you try to win by two or get to 30 first).
And that’s it for game one. Yes, most matches consist of at least three sets or games and play best out of three. If you win the first two games, then you don’t have to play a third. If each team wins one game, then you play a third game. The third game is the wild card!
In game three, the scoring system is still rally (1+ per rally), but you only play to 15. Before the game starts, captains go up to flip a coin for side or receive, so the teams will reset who has which side and who serves first (this may be different than when established at the start of a match). At point 8, the teams switch sides. Gotta make it even!. The third game is also won by two, so don’t relax once you hit 14!
Well, that’s about it for the scoring system. Have fun and good luck!