Graphic by Nicole Miyoshi

CPP volleyball team embraces NCAA rule changes

By William Jack, April 30, 2024

Collegiate volleyball is undergoing a major transformation with the recent approval of several National Collegiate Athletic Association rule changes announced last month.

The rule changes for the 2024 season include adjustments to video review guidelines, new penalties for fan interference and a new rule allowing two liberos per set. The most significant change approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, however, involves allowing players to contact the ball more than once during a single attempt on a team’s second contact.

This decision aims to streamline officiating by eliminating contentious judgment calls related to double contacts, a longstanding source of debate between coaches and officials.

Hellen McMullin, a middle blocker for the Broncos, welcomes the rule change, noting its potential to ease pressure on non-setter positions.

“It’s nice to have the opportunity to not be worried about doubling what I set,” said McMullin.

However, Caitie Mueller, an experienced setter for the team, expresses reservations about the potential impact on the artistry of setting.

“It hurts the position of setters because it kind of takes the art out of setting,” Mueller said.

Before, setters took pride in how they were able to set up their teammates with just one contact. The newly added rule eliminates the importance of being efficient at the position and could hurt how seriously setters will be viewed on the recruiting trail.

Sarah Ybarra, who boasts versatility as both setter and outside hitter, shares concerns about the rule’s implications for setter standards across divisions.

“It almost feels like a putdown because many setters work extremely hard to set a good clean ball from anywhere,” said Ybarra.

In addition to the double contact rule adjustment, the NCAA has also approved the designation of two liberos for each team per set, a move aimed at enhancing gameplay and providing more opportunities for athletes to contribute.

A libero in volleyball is a specialized defensive player responsible for digging and passing, primarily in the back row. They wear a different colored jersey and are not allowed to attack the ball above the net or serve, focusing solely on defensive play.

Regarding the two liberos rule, McMullin highlighted its potential to showcase players’ specialized skills.

“I think it just offers up more playing time for players as well as some liberos are better at defense or some liberos are better at serve receive passing,” McMullin said.

Mueller echoed McMullin’s sentiments, emphasizing the benefits of leveraging players’ strengths.

In addition to these changes, the NCAA has introduced administrative sanctions, or red cards, for instances where spectators encroach on the playing area without resolution by the host administration.

Regarding the new rule addressing fan encroachment, McMullin questions the feasibility of this new rule change.

“I don’t think you’ll ever see that, but I think it’s unfair,” McMullin said. “Your fans are your fans, and I’m trying to play my sport. How can I control the people who are watching me?”

Additionally, interference above the net that was not previously subject to video review, can now be challenged by coaches.

Most of the players were welcoming to the idea of video review, stressing the importance of accuracy over all else when it comes to officiating.

While some players welcome these adjustments as necessary steps toward modernizing the sport and improving its entertainment value, others express reservations about potential consequences for traditional gameplay elements and player development.

At the end of the day, players just want the game to be played with integrity, not leaving any doubts about the outcome or result.

As they embrace these new rule changes, the Broncos will be focused on doing their best under these new circumstances after their 2024 season starts in September.

Feature graphic by Nicole Miyoshi

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