OHSBVA State Officials' Coordinator's Page


OHSBVA 2017 State Tournament Crew 

2017 OHSBVA State Tournament Officiating Crew

 Above, left to right: Steve DiBacco (Scoreboard Operator), Michael Chandler (Referee), Lucas Tuggle (Head Referee), Rick Brown (Referee), Mary Black (Referee), Dan Litteral (Referee), Jim Hammar (Scorer/LJ), Lisa Sanders (Referee), David Barnes (LJ),

(missing, Jim Visgaitis, LJ


 Please view this page for important updates from

Lucas Tuggle,

OHSBVA State Officials' Coordinator.


This page should be accessed weekly for the latest information including NFHS rule changes, rule interpretations and guidance. To access in-depth officiating information, click on "Officiating."

2017 OHSBVA Rules Interpretation PowerPoint and How to Work with a VolleyWrite Scorer: Following the last Rules Interpretation meeting each year, the State Officials' Coordinator has the PowerPoint presentation posted on the Officiating web page for reference by officials, coaches and other interested parties. See this document here in addition to the VolleyWrite document. To be updated on March 22, 2018.


Court legality is something we expect officials to be aware of and take care of in a reasonable manner. There needs to be a clearly visible, solid attack line. Painter's/floor tape can be used to make an attack line legal. There needs to be a complete center line with no gaps. The line can include a shadow line, but if there is a metal floor plate covering up the hole used for a pole or a mascot through the center line, floor tape should be used to put down a full center line.

The following guidance is offered to address issues from recent seasons:

1. Judging whether an “overpassed” ball has entered the plane above the net and properly applying the pertinent rule

An overpass typically involves a ball played by one team that will bring the ball closer to the net than the player contacting the ball intended, creating challenges for the setter in reaching the ball to get a decent set to a hitter. Awareness on the part of both referees regarding whether the setter is back row is critical since a back-row attack or back-row block may occur given the setter attempting to "save" the ball near the net with the ball possibly totally above net height and the setter possibly reaching higher than the top of the net. And, on such a play, the blocker may commit an over-the-net fault by taking a play away from the setter before the ball breaks the plane of the net.

Referees have to know the applicable rules when any ball is attacked (directed toward the net) and use proper mechanics (described below) to “’sight” the ball to determine whether the lead edge of the ball broke the plane of the net and whether/when/how the opponent contacted the ball. As the ball nears the plane above the net, the R1 must determine: (a) whether the ball broke the plane above the net before being contacted by the opponent where it could be legally attacked OR blocked; OR (b) if the ball did not break the plane, was the opponent’s contact an attack or a block?; AND (c) if the ball did not break the plane AND the defensive team's contact was considered a block, did the block contact interfere with the attacking team''s right to play the ball on its own side of the net? The key here is that the defensive team is permitted to contact the ball on the opponent’s side of the net under specified circumstances but never by attacking a ball that hasn’t broken the plane and is totally on the other team’s side of the net. A third hit may be blocked over the opponent’s courts as long as the attacking team has had the opportunity to complete an attack-hit. In other words, simultaneous contact by opposing players on a ball that is totally on Team A’s side of the net is an over-the-net fault on Team B.

To determine whether a ball has broken the plane above the net, R1s should use a sighting technique that involves looking straight down the line of the net with eyes on either side of the antenna to make the best judgment possible. “Breaking the plane” occurs at the moment the front edge of the ball has reached the imaginary plane above the net. If the R1 determines that the ball has broken the plane, the ball may be either attacked or blocked by a front-row player of the other team. There is no rule that says an overpass may not be attacked. Referees should not say to a coach that an overpass may not be attacked since this is clearly inaccurate. Rule 9, Section 6, Net Play, Art. 3 states: “A player shall not contact a ball which is completely on the opponent’s side of the net unless the contact is a legal block.” Therefore, a ball cannot be attacked unless it has broken the plane above the net, and a ball may not be attacked when it is totally over the opponent’s court regardless of whether the opponent has completed its three hits or the third ball was clearly going to cross the net.

Let’s look at a play that requires the R1 to judge whether the ball broke the plane above the net. Team A passes the ball poorly, and the setter has no chance to reach the poor pass. The ball nears the plane of the net where a Team B front-row player goes up and hits the ball just as the front edge reaches the plane above the net. This is what coaches teach, and they hope the timing of the hitter is such that the hitter gets on top of the ball, waiting for the ball to JUST reach the net, and then hammers the ball without following through into the net. Coaches also teach their hitters in the front row to block a ball close to the net. The key is that when blocking action is used over the opponent’s court, the blocking action cannot interfere with the offensive team if the offensive team has a legitimate play on the ball. Remember, if the front of the ball barely makes it into the plane, the ball is considered having “broken the plane,” allowing defensive contact by either attacking or blocking action.

Proper rule application means also understanding the intent of the rules surrounding net play. Since a ball that barely breaks the plane of the net may be attacked by a front-row player of the opposing team, if the R1 isn't 100% sure that the ball did NOT break the plane above the net, the R1 does not whistle an over-the-net fault. If the R1 has used proper sighting technique and is totally sure the attack contact occurred totally over the opponent’s court, the R1 would signal an over-the-net fault, not an illegal attack. The R1 should NEVER explain the call with multiple hand gestures, waving and gesturing to explain or sell a call. Rather, if a question is raised by the head coach before the next rally, the R2 will respond to the coach’s concern. This may or may not be solely a judgment call. So, if the captain asks the R1, the R1 will state the fact pattern that was observed and the rule that was applied. When the captain reports to the head coach what the R1 said, if the head coach asks for reconsideration of the referee’s decision before the next rally and is willing to risk a time-out, the referees must allow this to occur (see reviewing a referee decision below). If the R1 says, you can’t attack an overpass, this would be a misinterpretation of a playing rule and a viable subject for reconsideration.

2. Reviewing referee decision on the last rally

Rule 11, Sec. 3, Reviewing Decisions provides a head coach the right to ask for review of a rules-related decision by the R1 on the last rally only at the risk of being charged with a time-out if the decision is upheld. This rule says: “To review a decision by a referee that may have resulted in an incorrect decision, the head coach may request and be granted a time-out, provided the request is made during the dead ball immediately following the situation in which the possible incorrect decision occurred. When a time-out is so granted, the head coach shall confer with the first referee at the first referee’s platform. If the conference results in the first referee altering the ruling, the opposing coach shall be notified by the second referee, the revision made, and the time-out charged to the referee.”

Due to lack of clarifying information, this rule section requires additional details. OHSBVA referees are REQUIRED to carry their Rules/Case Books to their matches. If not, they cannot show a head coach who validly raises a rule application issue or whether the correct rule was applied or the correct penalty where the Rules (with Case Book clarifications) address the issue in question. The response to a legitimate concern related to the last rally by a head coach who is disagreeing with a rule interpretation by the referees should NOT be, “I don’t need to consult the Rules or Case Book; the ruling was correct.” The head coach has the right to ask for reconsideration if the play in question involved interpretation or application of a playing rule or application of a penalty and was not solely an issue of referee judgment (touch/no touch, ball in or out, 2-hit fault on second or third ball, two efforts to play a ball by the same player resulting in 2 contact, etc.).

The referees may not deny this request UNLESS the decision involves only judgment. The right thing to do is to listen to the coach’s request rather than respond from a “how dare you challenge me’ perspective. The R2 listens to the head coach’s concern and becomes the communicator/facilitator. While the head coach can be granted the time-out to have the referees reconsider the rule application on the play in question and DOES allow the coach to cross the court, this may not be necessary. First, the referees should confer. Then, the R1 may get off the stand and come to the table to consult the Rules/Case Books to try to find the pertinent citations. The referees collaborate to try to get it right. If the rules support the referees’ decision or there is nothing that goes against the rule application, the team is assessed a time-out, and play resumes with the decision unchanged. Please also communicate with the opposing coach before play resumes!

If the team has used both of its time-outs and the referees’ decision is not overturned, the team is charged with a delay sanction. If this is the first unnecessary delay in the set, it’s a YUD (warning, yellow card on wrist of offending team) that should be signaled, recorded and communicated to the coaches. If this is a second or subsequent delay in the same set, then a delay penalty (RUD, red card on the wrist) is signaled and the opponent is awarded a loss of rally/point.

Remember: The Rules and Case Books that referees are required to have available for each match are not at the R1 stand. The R2 should play a preventive role when the R2 knows that the R1’s decision was not based on a correct application of the pertinent playing rules rather than solely judgment in nature. The R2 can listen to the coach’s concern and have a quick discussion with the R1. If the R1 is convinced that a mistake occurs, the R2 conveys this information to both coaches and the proper ruling may result in the other team winning the rally or issuance of a replay, depending upon circumstances.

3. Re-serve or no re-serve?

The Rules Book (Rule 8 – the Serve – Articles 5 and 6) describes how a re-serve may be issued. Art. 5: “A player’s term of service begins when the player assumes the right-back position as the server and ends when a loss of rally is awarded or a substitution for the player is made prior to the end of the team’s term of service. Each player may have only one re-serve during a team’s term of service. Art. 6: “A re-serve shall be called when the server releases the ball for service, then catches it or drops it to the floor. The first referee shall cancel the serve and direct a second and last attempt at serve. The server is allowed a new five seconds for the re-serve. A re-serve is considered to be part of a single attempt to serve. Therefore, after the first referee’s signal for service, no requests, e.g., time-out, service order, lineup, substitution, libero replacement, etc. may be recognized until after the ball has been served.”

The Case Book FULLY explains the intent of the rule under the header Re-Serve, p. 29, CB
8.1.6 Situation B: “After the first referee's signal for serve, the server: (a) swings and misses the tossed ball; (b) swings, misses and the ball contacts her shoulder; (c) lets the tossed ball drop to the floor; (d) catches a bad toss; (e) tosses the ball, then lets it drop without swinging at it, but it touches the server's knee as it drops to the floor. RULING: (a), (c), (d) and (e) re-serve; (b) illegal serve, point/loss of rally. COMMENT: In (b), if the ball had not touched the server, but dropped to the floor, it would have been a re-serve; (e) no attempt was made to serve the ball.”

All of the situations above result in the R1 whistling and signaling a re-serve IF this is the first re-serve issued during this server's term of service other than (b) where the server tosses the ball for service, swings, misses and the ball touches the player. A re-serve is not issued (illegal serve should be whistled and signaled) when a server tosses the ball for service, and the tossed ball contacts anything but the player (e.g., a "down backboard," a backboard in a raised position, any other part of the ceiling).

4. Server tosses ball and it touches down backboard or ceiling (includes “up” backboard)

Situation 2: Same play as in 3 above, but Team B’s head coach was told by his players that the serve had actually been tossed and the ball touched a backboard before being caught by the server. This was not the fact pattern explained by the R1 to the captain, who reported the conversation to the coach who sent the captain back to the R1 in Situation 1.

According to Team B’s coach, the explanation to his captain was that a service toss could not be caught, and the referees refused to consult the Rules Book/Case Book. However, the coach of Team A wanted to know what the proper ruling should have been if the service toss had touched the "up" backboard (considered ceiling), the ceiling proper or a "down" backboard.

The rule that governs this situation supersedes the rule that states that a toss and catch is legal and results in a re-serve. Once service has been authorized, and the server releases the ball for service, the ball may not touch anything other than the server or the floor (catching the ball without having swung at it, contacting the ball without having attempted to swing at it or having the ball contact the server without having made an effort to swing at it). If the ball touches a backboard (up OR down) OR the ceiling itself or slips out of the server’s hand, an illegal service has occurred. The player chose to position himself where the backboard/ceiling came into play and owns the result of the errant toss. This is common sense for most people and addressed in all other major U.S. rule-sets.

The coach asked where in OHSBVA Rules (NFHS Volleyball Rules Book or Case Book) is this issue addressed? The answer previously was that the issue was not addressed. We previously had to apply the rule which empowers the R1 with making determinations on matters not addressed in rule. Rule 5, Section 4 First Referee Responsibilities, Art. 3: “During the Set: a. The first referee is the head official who shall: 1. Make decisions on matters not specifically covered by the rules;" However, the  NFHS has announced a change that provides guidance. Rule 8-1-6 will state: "A tossed ball for serve contacting a backboard in a vertical position is a fault. Rationale: The server is responsible to assume a position not located under an obstruction." 

Our interpretation was and is consistent with the NFHS Rule change. A ball tossed for service that contacts anything from point of release by the server other than the server (legal service or re-serve) or the floor (preliminary service action or possible re-serve) is considered an illegal serve, and a re-serve shall NOT be awarded. The opponent wins the rally and serves next. The appropriate hand signal is Signal 3, Illegal Hit. So, going beyond the NFHS change but consistent with the intent, if the toss contacts the ceiling (which includes an "up" backboard), it is also considered an illegal serve.

Lucas Tuggle, OHSBVA State Officials' Coordinator/State Rules Interpreter

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