Current NIRSA (National Intramural Recreational Sport Association) and NFHS (National Federation of State High School Associations) shall govern all intramural rules used for Volleyball at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Intramural Sports reserves the right to make changes or additions to the rules or policies at anytime.


  1. A team will consist of six players.
  2. A minimum of four players is required to start a game.
  3. Varsity volleyball players are not eligible to play intramural volleyball.
  4. Club volleyball players may only participate in the A League. A maximum of two club volleyball players may play for the same team.

volleyball-playing-regulationsPlaying Regulations

  1. A match shall consist of the best of three games. The first two games are played to 25 points. If necessary, a third game will be played as a tie breaker to 15 points.
  2. A team must win by a two-point advantage. Play shall continue until one team has a two-point advantage.
    • There is a point cap at 28 points in the first two games and, if necessary, a point cap at 18 points in the third game.
  3. The time period between games of a match shall be no more than 3 minutes beginning on the referee’s signal.
  4. Rally scoring
    • Every side out/loss of rally results in a point: results in a point for the opponent.
  5. Positioning
    • Rotation must be made in a clockwise manner
    • No player shall have any part of the body touching the floor outside the boundary and center lines
    • After the ball is contacted for the serve, players may move from their respective positions but must switch back before the next serve is contacted.
    • Improper serve, loss of rally is awarded:
      • When discovered prior to the contact of the first serve by opposing team, all points earned by improper server shall be canceled and no further penalty assessed.
      • When discovered after the serve has alternated and first serve has been contacted, no cancellation of points and no penalty are assessed.


  1. Each team is limited to three time-outs, which are 60 seconds in length,
    • Time-outs requested prior to the start of the game shall be honored.
    • Time-out penalties occur when a team delays its return to the floor after time has expired.


  1. Substitutes can enter the game on a dead ball. Substitutions may not occur during a live ball or after the referee has signaled for a serve.
  2. Substitutes must report to the substitution zone and may enter after recognized by the umpire.
  3. Penalty for illegal substitution:
    • For the serving team, any points known to have been scored during a term of service in which the illegal substitute is discovered in the game shall be canceled.
    • For the receiving team, prior to the contact of the serve by the opposing team, all points earned during the previous term of service by the violating team while the illegal substitute was in the game, shall be canceled.
  4. After the serve has alternated and the first serve is contacted, there shall be no cancellation of points. During a time-out, substitutes from the same team must report at the same time.

volleyball-the-serveThe Serve

  1. The server shall hit the ball with one hand, fist or arm while the ball is held or after it is released.
  2. The ball shall be contacted within 5-seconds after the referee’s signal to serve.
  3. The server shall serve from within the serving area and shall not touch the end line or the floor outside the lines at the instant the ball is contacted for the serve.
    • A server’s body may be in the air over or beyond the serving area boundary lines, having left the floor within the serving area.
  4. Service begins when a player assumes the right back position and ends when a loss of rally is awarded or a substitution for the player is made.
  5. A serve is illegal when:
    • Touches the ceiling or any obstruction
    • Teammate hits the ball illegally
    • Is touching the end line or the floor outside of serving area when the ball is contacted
    • Does not contact the ball to serve within 5-seconds
    • Is out of serving order or is from the wrong team
    • Deliberately serves before the referee’s signal
    • Releases the ball for service, then catches it or drops it to the floor more than once during one term of service
  6. A served ball becomes dead when:
    • Does not legally cross the net
    • Ball passes under the net
    • Touches one of the server's teammates
    • Touches the floor on the server's side of the net
    • Crosses the net and lands out of bounds
  7. A re-serve shall be called when:
    • The officials make differing calls
    • Server releases the ball for service and drops it to the floor
      • Server will be given a new 5-second count for re-serve from the referee

volleyball-live-and-dead-ballsLive and Dead Balls

  1. A “Let serve” is a ball that when served, hits the net without touching the net antenna and continues across the net into the opponent’s court.
  2. A ball striking the ceiling or an overhead obstruction above a playable area shall remain
    • The let serve is a playable live ball
    • The let serve is a strategy use to keep the game moving
  3. A ball striking the ceiling or an overhead obstruction above a playable area shall remain in play provided the ball contacts the ceiling or obstruction on the side of the net extended that is occupied by the team that last played the ball, and the ball is legally played next by the same team.

volleyball-contacting-the-ballContacting the Ball

  1. Contact is any touch of the ball by a player excluding a player’s loose hair
  2. A team shall not have more than 3 hits before the ball crosses the net into opponent’s playing area.
    • A team’s 1st contact is simultaneous contact by opponents or an action to block, the next contact is considered the team’s first hit
  3. Illegal contact, illegal successive contacts or illegal multiple contacts of the ball.
    • Passed completely beyond the vertical plane of the net
    • It is partially over the net and is contacted by an opponent
    • No part of the ball has crossed the net and is legally blocked
  4. A block and simultaneous contact does not count as a hit.
  5. Simultaneous contact is more than one contact of the ball made at the same instant.
    • A team has more then 3 hits
    • One player contacts the ball with two or more parts of the body at the same instant
    • Teammates contact the ball at the same instant
    • Opposing players contact the ball at the same instant, the player on the opposite side of the net from which the ball falls shall be considered the player to have touched the ball last. The other player may participate in the next play and simultaneous contact shall not count as a hit.
  6. Penalties for illegal play: Point or loss of rally is awarded to the opponent

volleyball-player-actionsPlayer Actions

  1. Front-row players may contact the ball from any position inside or outside the court above or below the top of the net.
  2. Back-row players, while positioned behind the attack line, may contact the ball from any position inside or outside the court above or below the top of the net.
  3. Play continues when a back-row player (on or in front of the attack line), contacts the ball
    • If the ball is hit back into a back-row player, it is ruled as the team’s first hit/ contact
    • It is a back-row player foul if the flight of the ball is toward the opponent’s court and not toward a teammate and is legally touched by an opponent above the net, or completely crosses the net.
  4. A back-row player SHALL NOT:
    • Participate in a block or an attempt to block
    • Attack a ball which is completely above the height of the net while positioned:
      • On or in front of the attack line or its out-of-bounds extension
      • In the air, having left the floor on or in front of the attack line or its out-of-bounds

volleyball-net-playNet Play

  1. A ball contacting and crossing the net shall remain in play provided contact is entirely within the net antennas
  2. Only a legal block allows for contact with the ball when it is entirely on the opponents side of the net and the opposing team has had the opportunity to complete its attack
    • Attack is complete when:
      • Attacking team has completed its 3 allowable hits
      • Attacking team has had the opportunity to spike the ball
      • Attacking team has the ball falling near the net and no play on the ball can be made
  3. Attacking or blocking a served ball is not permitted especially when the ball is completely above the height of the net.
  4. Point or loss of rally is awarded to opponent for net foul or over-the-net-foul
    • A ball may be attacked, excluding a served ball when it has partially crossed the net.
    • A player gains an advantage or there is dangerous contact by contacting the floor / wall cables standards or referee’s platform
    • Interference by a player occurs when:
    • Contact with an opponent which interferes with the opponent’s legitimate effort to play the ball
    • Intentional contact with the ball which the opponent has caused to pass partially under the net or into the body of the net and the opponent is attempting to play it again