In an attempt to more clearly distinguish between the libero and other team members, uniform requirements will be changing in high school volleyball.
The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Volleyball Rules Committee, at its January 9-11 meeting in Indianapolis, approved new uniform requirements that will take effect in 2016. All rules changes passed by the Volleyball Rules Committee were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.
The revised rule will require the libero to wear a uniform top that is immediately recognized from all angles as being in clear contrast to and distinct from the other members of the team. The libero and/or his/her teammates shall wear a solid-colored uniform top. The solid-colored uniform top shall clearly contrast from the predominant primary color(s) of the teammates’ uniform top, with the predominant color(s) being the color(s) appearing on approximately half of the uniform.
Other requirements of the solid-colored top are 1) the sleeves shall be the same color as the body of the uniform top; 2) piping/trim no wider than 1 inch in total at its widest point may be placed along the seams and may be a different color(s) than the uniform top; 3) lettering and collars may be different color(s) than the uniform top; and 4) numbers shall be a contrasting color to the uniform top and meet all other specifications in Rule 2-2-4.
“Some uniforms were affecting the officials’ ability to identify the libero and determine legal playing action,” said Becky Oakes, NFHS director of sports and liaison to the Volleyball Rules Committee. “The tradition is that volleyball is a sport with colorful uniforms. Because there has been increasing difficulty identifying the libero because of uniform design, the rules needed to make sure the libero was easily identified.”
The rule will take effect July 1, 2016, which should give uniform manufacturers time to make the necessary changes and allow high schools to make uniform changes in their normal budgeting process and not incur additional expense, according to Oakes.
The committee also made a change to Rule 10-3, which deals with illegal alignment penalties.
The rule now states, “Illegal alignment is charged when an illegal substitute is identified in the set after the whistle/signal for serve and results in a loss of a rally/point.”
Oakes said that the committee wanted to add consistency to the rule and that a team should face the same consequences regardless of whether it plays an illegal libero or an illegal substitute.
In addition, some changes were made to the responsibilities for referees.
In Rule 5-3-4d, prior to a deciding set, the second referee shall conduct the coin toss at the officials table. The second referee shall then confirm with the first referee the result of the coin toss. Formerly, the coin toss would take place at center court, and the first referee had the option of conducting the coin toss or passing it off to the second referee.
“This rule change will give the second referee some extra responsibility,” Oakes said, adding that the committee believes that the change will be a much more efficient procedure.
Referees now will be required to carry a watch, per a change to Rule 5-2-2, to serve as an alternate to the visual timing device in the event of a malfunction with the on-site device.
The final rule change comes with the increasing presence of electronic media in high school sports. Rule 11-2-3 now allows state associations to determine the number of electronic media time-outs transmitted for matches and to have the option to reduce the number of charged time-outs.
A complete listing of all rules changes approved by the committee is available on the NFHS Web site at www.nfhs.org. Click on “Athletics & Fine Arts Activities” on the home page, and select “Volleyball.”
Volleyball is the third-most popular girls sport and 13th-most popular boys sport at the high school level according to the 2010-11 NFHS High School Athletics Participation Survey. There are 409,332 girls at 15,479 high schools and 50,016 boys at 2,078 high schools participating nationwide.