USA Volleyball has finally decided to let liberos serve starting this season. This rule change has been coming for a while but I was hoping it would not happen. Liberos are there to play defense, and serving is very much an offensive action. Besides this will even further limit specialization in our front row players. Right now many middles only get to play in the back row when they are serving. Now they won’t even get to do that. I don’t like this new rule, but it is what it is, and we will have to learn to use it to our best advantage.
Here is the guidelines sent out by the USAV:
USAV LIBERO SERVING RULE
USAV 7.7.1: A rotational fault is committed when a Libero serves in a second rotation position in the same set.
a. The Libero may not block or attempt to block.
b. In one rotation, a Libero may serve after replacing the player in position 1.
USAV 22.214.171.124: In one rotation, a Libero can replace the player in position 1 and serve the next rally, even if s/he is already on the court in replacement of another player. In this situation, the Libero does not have to exit the court before replacing the player in position 1, and there does not need to be a completed rally between Libero replacements.
Related Rule Interpretations
1. Team A’s Libero (#3) is in the game in position 5, having replaced #8. A Libero has not served in the set. #10 is in position 2. Team A wins the rally and rotates. The Libero #3 goes directly to position 1 to serve. Team A’s #8 comes off the bench to position 4 and #10 leaves the court to the bench. Both regular players exchange through the Libero Replacement Zone.
Ruling: This is the proper procedure. According to USAV 126.96.36.199, the Libero does not have to leave the court, and there need not be a completed rally if s/he is replacing the player in position 1, and is the next correct server.
2. Team A’s Libero (#3) is on the court in position 5, having replaced #8. Team A has a second Libero (#14) who is on the bench. A Libero has not served in the set. #10 is in position 2. Team A wins the rally and rotates. Team A wants the second Libero (#14) to serve, so Libero #3 and regular player #8 exchange, and Libero #14 and regular player #10 exchange. Libero #14 is the next server for Team A.
Ruling: This is the proper procedure. A team with two designated Liberos may exchange Liberos freely, as long as the exchange takes place between completed rallies. Either Libero may serve, as long as it is in only one service rotation position.
3. Team A’s Libero #3 has served in rotation 1. In the same set, after winning a rally, Team A’s Libero #14 replaces the player in rotation 4 on the scoresheet. #14 goes to position 1 and prepares to serve.
Ruling: Even when there are two Liberos on a team, the Libero(s) can only serve in one position on the scoresheet. The Scorer and Assistant Scorer should wait until the Libero contacts the ball for service, and then notify the second referee that a rotation fault has occurred. The second referee should whistle to stop play, indicate a rotational fault, and the first referee should award the rally to Team B. If Libero #14 entered the game from the bench after there had been a completed rally, s/he may stay in the game. If Libero #14 was already on the court, or if there had not been a completed rally between the Libero replacements, the regular player and Libero #14 must exchange, with the regular player going back to position 1. There now must be a completed rally before Team A is allowed another Libero replacement.
4. Team A’s Libero, #3 serves three points. The Team A coach now wants their second Libero, #14 to serve during the same term of service.
Ruling: Per Rule 188.8.131.52 the Liberos are allowed to exchange after a completed rally at any time during the match, so there is no rule prohibiting this type of replacement. However, the match must not be delayed any longer than if the same player had stayed in the game to serve. If there is any delay longer than the normally allowed interval between serves, the replacement is allowed, however a delay sanction should be assessed.
5. Team A’s #1 rotates to position 1 to serve. The Team A Libero runs from the warm-up area, and #1 leaves the service zone directly to the warm-up area. The exchange takes place behind the end line.
Ruling: All Libero exchanges must take place in the Libero Replacement Zone, in order for the Scorer and Assistant Scorer to properly note the exchange. Team A is at risk of a delay sanction. Even if a delay sanction is assessed, the replacement, if otherwise legal, should be allowed.