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Ace: A serve that is not returned by the opponent.

Assist: A set or pass to a player that gets a kill.

Attack (Hit): A ball that a player hits overhand in an attempt to hit the floor.

Attacker (Hitter): A player who hits the ball.

Base: Defensive positions that the players on the team always return to.

Block: A defensive play in which a player contacts the ball with their hands above their head at the plane of the net to stop or slow down their opponent's hit.

Dig: A defensive play used to keep the opponent from getting a kill.

Down Ball: An overhand attack where the player does not leave their feet.

Dump: An attack, typically performed by the setter, that sends the ball over on the second contact to an open area of the court.

Free Ball: A ball that comes slowly (usually off a pass) over the net. The offensive team wants to take advantage of this and make an attack.

Kill: A hit that results in an immediate point (can be off some passes and sets occasionally).

Match: A volleyball contest, consisting of individual sets.

Pass: A way to deliver the ball to a teammate by using the forearms.

Rally: When the volleyball goes back and forth on both sides of the net.

Serve: The way to start each point. A player makes contact with the ball (underhand overhand) from behind the end line.

Set (Game): 3 sets make up a match in club volleyball.

Set (Overhand pass): An overhand two-handed pass used to deliver the ball to the hitter.

Setter: The person that delivers the ball to the hitters (typically the second ball).

Side-Out: When the team that was receiving the ball wins a rally and then becomes the serving team. 

Substitution: When one player replaces another player on the court. There is a limit allowed per set.


- A Volleyball game is called a Match. Each match consists of sets. In club volleyball, each match has three sets, if necessary.

- Sets are usually played to 25 points. A deciding set (3rd set) is usually played to 15 points.

- Rally-scoring is used. A team earns points both on their own errors as well as their opponent’s errors.

- Sets must be won by 2 points.

- A rally always starts with a serve.

- There are 6 players on each side of the court.

- Each side gets 3 contacts.

- No player can hit the ball 2 times in a row.

- Players can move to a predetermined position. The 3 front row players must stay in the front row and the 3 back row players must stay in the back row.

- After each side-out, the serving team must rotate so there is a new server. (Rotate 1-6, then start over).


Foot Fault: Called when the server steps over the end line before contacting the ball.

Signal: Line Judge waves arm/flag to notify Referee.

In: Called when the ball lands on or inside the court lines.

Signal: Line Judge holds both hands down towards the ground.

Out: Called when the ball lands outside the court lines.

Signal: Line Judge holds both hands upwards towards face.

Touch: Called when the ball touches a player prior to going out of bounds.

Signal: Line Judge holds one arm upwards towards the face and swipes other hand towards the ceiling.

Double Hit: Called when one player contacts the ball twice in a row. This often is called during an attempt to set when it bobbles from one hand to another.

Signal: Referee holds up 2 fingers.

Four Hits: Called when a team uses more than 3 contacts to send the ball over.

Signal: Referee holds up 4 fingers.


Outside Hitter: Plays the left front position. Hits and defends. Helps the middle blocker, blocks the opposing team’s right-side hitter and middle blocker.

Middle Blocker: Plays in the middle front position. Middle Blocker is a key defensive position. Blocking is important for this position as they block all positions on the opposing team. This player often runs quick hits off of the setter.

Rightside Hitter: Plays the right front position. Hits and defends. Helps the middle blocker out with blocking the opposing team’s outside hitter. Back up to the setter if the setter takes the first ball.

Setter: Similar to the quarterback in football. Gets the second ball and sets it to a hitter for an attack.

Defensive Specialist: A player that specializes in defense. Plays in the back row and defends attacks from the opposing team.

Libero: A defensive specialist who cannot attack or set the ball in front of the 10-foot line. This player wears a different color jersey and does not count for substitutions.